The concept of net neutrality states that governments and internet service providers should treat data on the internet with no discrimination. Data should be treated equally despite the user, content, site, application, attached equipment and mode of communication. Critics argue that data discrimination of some type is not problematic but rather highly desirable. Opponents of net neutrality are of the opinion that the best solution to discrimination done by broadband providers is encouraging a larger competition among providers that is limited in many areas. The Federal Communications Commission is making new rules that will permit internet service providers to give providers track to send content and therefore reversing their position on neutrality.
Media democracy, on the other hand, refers to a set of ideas advising reforming the mass media, developing alternative media and citizen journalism. The purpose of that is creating mass media systems that empowers and informs all society members and improves democratic values. Media democracy majors on using information technologies to empower citizens and promote democratic ideals via the spread of information. Media democracy shows that the media should be used to promote democracy and that it should be democratic itself. Media democracy advocates for strengthening public service broadcasting, increasing the role of citizen journalism and using the mass media to promote democratic ideals. In the Arab world attempts to censor the internet and use state controlled media led to escalation of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was started by Mohamed Bouazizi, a hawker in Tunisia who burnt himself while protesting why his trade wares were confiscated by municipal police. This action commenced the Tunisian Revolution and ended the 23 year rule of Ben Ali. It later triggered Arab Spring in Syria, Egypt, and Libya. Political unrest in the Arab countries in year 2010 aimed to establish new regimes of power which came to be referred as the Arab Spring. It is characterized by demonstrations, riots and rallies. The country citizens use it as a mean to express their dissatisfaction in the manner the local government performed its duties. The protestors used the internet to coordinate the demonstrations and use the new media that is free from censor.
According to Drale (214), the telecommunications act of 1996 set a contemporary tone in deregulation and resulted in the merger of various large companies resulting to the growing monopolization of the media landscape. The concentration of media ownership is a program where fewer individuals and organizations have control over increasing shares of the mass media. Media monopolization is a result of a media related company purchasing another company for control of their resources and therefore increases viewership and revenues. Those who have put an effort towards seeking democracy are the people in the community who may have failed in accomplishing their political agenda and as a result, they feel that democracy is the suitable way of achieving their personal goals. In addition, existence of middle class with no decision on whether to support democracy or not has made the situation worse. This worsened by the fact that most of these middle class citizens depend on public employment thus have to follow what the political leadership tells them while those in private sectors live in fear of losing their financial position if they go against the government.
The FCC’s “Preserving the Open Internet” proceeding which concluded in the late 2012 which is a policy about the future of the internet driven by arguments on net neutrality. On this internet order, the internet’s open architecture allows consumers and innovators at edges of the network in creating success or failure of content, services and devices. The internet age is characterized by citizens making use of the internet to bring out social concerns in different ways. The internet space is used to address issues that affected humanity in general. The platform has led to emergence of citizen journalists who seek and disseminate information without censor. These people also carried out their work for personal benefits and also to the advantage of the entire community.
The goal of FCC proceeding is finding the approach in promoting and protecting internet openness. The internet is a collection of networks and not a single network. This statement means that every broadband provider can either add increase the benefits that the internet delivers to citizens by maintaining internet openness and extending the access of broadband networks. Although the commission emphasizes the importance of legally enforceable standards. However in the absence of protections for the open internet that a commission should act to ensure that new legal rules are put in place.
Jeremy Rifkin is an author and president of the foundation on economic trends. He argues that the gap between the connected and disconnected is wide. The world is considered to be developing in two different civilizations, those living outside electronic gates of cyberspace and those inside. The shifts from cyberspace to geography and ownership to access cause a wholesale rethinking in the social contract.
Communication analysts measure policy effectiveness against expectations of media industries such as providing public platforms for democratic discussion and ensuring a diverse population. This analysis examines potential roles of media technologies and industries in the context of different models of democracy. These models include deliberative, activist, communitarian and market liberalism. From these models, there are different doctrines of media use in a democratic society. These doctrines include the public sphere doctrine, the market doctrine and the public improvement doctrine.
In Rifkin’s book, he states that the internet is managed as a global commons with primary stakeholders playing collaborative roles in its governance. However, the private sector strays from the three party alliances and seeks increased profits and income through price discrimination. Network neutrality, however, assures nondiscriminatory universal communications whereby participants enjoy equal inclusion and access (Rifkin 2). The network neutrality concept grew from the design structure of the internet that favors users rather than network providers. Users pay to access internet connection, and the price depends on the quality or speed provided by their internet service provider.
Proponents for network neutrality say that the network should remain stupid, therefore, allowing many users to cooperate and innovate in developing their applications. The struggle of network neutrality is a battle of paradigms. Industrial revolution and cable companies would also like to control content and traffic on the internet. The success of the internet in the model for promoting entrepreneurial experiments and preventing harmful behavior in the digital communications is in hand and embodied in FCC regulatory decisions.
Computer unlicensed decisions by the FCC adopted lines that guaranteed access to communication. These simple rules allow intensive entrepreneurial experimentation, but no required involvement in the daily operation of the communication protocols. Self-regulatory institutions developed to manage space protected by FCC policy. It is inappropriate to believe that institutions would succeed without strong action of the FCC in creating and preserving space for the entrepreneurial experimentation.
Rifkin asks if civilization can survive with reduced government and cultural sphere. Commercial spheres are regulated by commercial forces. Rifkin explains what is at stake if not asked. Examples include historical culture used to precede markets, cultural sphere absorbed by commercial sphere and the task in finding balance between cultural resources of public interest (Rifkin 5).
Drale inquiries if the media has a social responsibility and what is expected of both media technologies and policies. She states that all models of democracy are of one common value, to support a good society. Media competition has to be maintained by serving quality at low cost. Media are a public sphere, and everyone should be allowed to associate in deliberation. Media access should be democratic. The government should support low power broadcast frequency, public access TV, diversity in media ownership and localism in policies designed to maximize audience participation. However, there are several critiques that include, the market is not stable, and that deliberation requires participation (Drake 217). Researchers suggest that policies should let go of media that does not lead to deliberative discussions.
In conclusion, as a US citizen, there are several factors that should change in relation to the media. President Obama says that the government would allow FCC to enforce heavier restrictions and therefore protect net neutrality. This suggestion makes the media and internet fair and accessible to many.
Drale, Christina. Communication media in a democratic society. NY: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates. 2004. Print.
Rifkin, Jeremy. The Age of Access: How the Shift from Ownership to Access Is Transforming
Nunziato, Dawn C. Virtual Freedom: