net neutrality in 12 words or less
So low income clients have equal access to online legal services.
At the NTEN conference today I attended a session on Net Neutrality. A raft of important and often-used scenarios were mentioned to illustrate the dangers of a world where ISPs could favor some content providers over others, for instance by giving visitors to AOL’s video service faster downloads than visitors to YouTube.
There is no shortage of arguments for Net Neutrality law, but the single most compelling argument I’d ever heard came from session attendee Joyce Raby, of the Legal Services Corporation. Namely, that without Net Neutrality, a low income person using a library or Internet café to access legal services from a site like lsc.gov might have a slower connection than an attorney at a firm researching similar information from a legal site that had paid to be more accessible.
My ACLU tie makes me think of this first as a free speech issue. But the simple Big Guy/Little Guy thinking in Joyce’s comment cut through the rest of the debate and laid it bare, for me at least: The Internet is a free resource open to anyone who can find a wired computer – undermining that basic accessibility isn’t just discriminatory or anti-competitive, in some cases it’s just plain oppression.