Again, it is a matter of proactive versus reactive. The net has always been neutral in that access to information has not (with very rare exceptions) been prevented. Companies can and do discriminate traffic based on protocol, but the traffic will eventually get from point A to point B.
The exception to this has always tended to be filtering illegal traffic: cutting off spammers, or prevention of individuals within a country from access information their government deems wrong.
The issue at hand is whether or not to allow the corporations that own the pipes and own the content to block you from accessing parts of the internet. I don’t give a rat’s if they want to discriminate based on protocol. So long as there are least two ISPs in a given area to chose from, there should be enough competition that they will eventually get into a war based on who will filter your traffic less.
If we allow ISPs to own content, or to form deep alliances with content owners then we enter entirely other territory. There is now suddenly a business case for preventing (or at the very least deprioritising) access to services offered by rival cabals. There may even be reason to prevent access to blogs, media outlets or what-have-you that deliver a message contrary to that which the cabal in questions wishes it’s customers to have access to.
You say that we should not legislate against this until after it has happened. I call that bizarre and dangerous. It seems we are at a complete impasse here; our opinions will likely never be reconciled. The ability to charge different rates based on the ORIGIN, DESTINATION or ACTUAL CONTENT (not PROTOCOL TYPE) of traffic is my beef. That is net neutrality to me; keeping the access to information 100% open, and preferably enshrined in law.
Enshrined as a human right, if at all possible. I do not believe that it should be a human right to have X Mbit internet access or free access to the latest episode of Survivor. But it damned well should be a human right to consume any freely available information without prejudice, and to have the opportunity to pay for and receive any information behind a paywall without prejudice.
If I pay for HTTP traffic, I should receive all HTTP traffic from all sources without prejudice or prioritisation. If my ISP is partnered with NBC they should not be preventing or deprioritising traffic to/from the BBC. Similarly, if my ISP is partnered with FOX, they shouldn’t be preventing or deprioritising my access to left-wing websites or anything that actually provides access to provable facts or scientific research.
Has anyone done this yet? No. It is however only a matter of time. If any corporation in the position to do thinks for a fraction of a second it can “generate revenue” but doing so then it will be done. Corporations don’t have morals; they have only the pursuit of the almighty dollar. The possibility that corporations will prevent or deprioritise access to information in order to either gain competitive advantage or shape public discourse is a threat. It should be dealt with accordingly.
Nice redirection with the malaria thing though. It’s nice to know what our societies must obviously solve problems in an arbitrarily defined hierarchy. “Don’t worry about this problem, that problem is far worse!” Personally I believe that preventing any entity, from governments to corporate cabals from controlling information in such a way as to effectively control the public at large is THE most important issue in the entire world. You will never convince me otherwise.
If the rich and powerful have total information control then nothing will ever be solved. Why? They became rich and powerful because of how things are; any change at all is a direct threat to them.
This then is why I revered good investigative journalists growing up. The ones who didn’t let their stories get killed, and who stood up for telling the truth regardless of who wanted what parts cut. I was lucky enough to know a few growing up, and frankly it’s why I like reading The Register. There are the rare folks around here who “speak truth to power” even when it’s inconvenient.
Personally, I will not stand idly by while there is any potential threat to the free flow of information. Access to information needs to become more open, not less. We certainly don’t have completely free access to information now, but that should never be used as an excuse to allow further restriction.
It needs to be used as a reason to identify areas where access to information is restricted and fight those barriers with everything we as citizens can bring to bear. (With acceptable barriers for individual privacy. I don’t believe corporations or governments should have the rights of individuals, and so in all honesty I don’t believe in corporate or governmental rights to privacy.)
I’m sorry if you feel I’m a whackjob for believing that, but that belief is part of the very core of who I am, and has been for as long as I can remember. I also believe in being proactive about threats, from computer maintenance to corporate malfeasance. Placing an outer marker on information control and manipulation isn’t the equivalent of corporate pre-crime. It’s letting everyone; from corporations and governments to individuals know where the line is, and establishing penalties for crossing it before someone tries.
If you were starting up a new country, would you wait until the first murder before outlawing it? Or less alarmist; would you wait until the first town/university/church group tried to censor access to information they didn't like before you declared such activates illegal? If you wouldn’t, they why wait until after access to information on the internet has been curtailed before declaring such activities verboten? At what point do we start learning from the past and proactively working to better our collective future?