Network neutrality 101

Network neutrality 101

Lately we have begun to hear lots of remarks on network neutrality by government officials. Tayfun Acarer of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) speaks about it most frequently. He and his institution made great contributions to the Turkish technology world. Broadband connections penetrated widely under his leadership. The telecommunications industry was once under a greater monopoly than it is right now. The industry and NGOs have a point of contact, which they have never had before. Having a contact point to discuss new projects caused many NGOs to function better. These are all very good reasons to support the BTK.

However I personally have a very big issue with their politics on network neutrality. The efforts to bring internet content under control are making me uneasy. They have tried it with the “family filter.” It didn’t work. They pushed a filtering system that would only enable content approved by the government using our tax money. However people didn’t choose to be filtered. Now they will try to reach their aim by trying to tax content houses. Tayfun Acarer said it is not fair for sites like Facebook and Twitter to take up so much of Turkey’s internet bandwidth without paying taxes. He hinted that if they won’t register here they will not be allowed to reap benefits, meaning that they will be shut down.

I am watching these types of moves in amazement as it is the main duty of the BTK to make it easier for people to connect through telecommunication technologies to foster economic growth and social happiness. I believe that in order to achieve these goals the BTK is on the wrong track. Or maybe they have an agenda that we don’t know.

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers or governments on consumers’ access to networks that participate in the Internet. Specifically, network neutrality would prevent restrictions on content, sites, platforms, types of equipment that may be attached, and modes of communication. Network owners can’t interfere with content, applications, services, and devices of users’ choice and remain open to all users and uses. Vinton Cerf, considered a “father of the Internet” and co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the web, and many others have spoken out in favor of network neutrality. It is very natural for them to speak in favor of it as the reason behind the construction of the net was to enable the free flow of information.

The BTK should ask itself different questions rather than asking if we are getting ripped off by foreign websites. It should first ask how much better Turkish citizens’ working and social lives are because of them. What would happen if Linked In asked for a share of every business deal made by members who met on their network. If the BTK can think straight, I am sure that they will understand how much happier and more efficient these foreign entities have made us. Once they realize this, they could reach the ultimate question; Why can’t we have global web services like the ones we are trying to tax? Is it because we are imposing a culture and atmosphere not fit for entrepreneurship and innovation?