Why Civil Net?

In my Global Media class this semester, one of the topics we discussed was net neutrality. We began to discuss the topic by looking at Mark Zuckerberg’s Free Basics program in India that he designed with the intention of creating a program for universal internet access to help make connections between people and lift them out of poverty by creating opportunities. We learned that the Free Basics program also carried negative effects in that it violated net neutrality in only offering people free access to certain, not all, sites on the web. In addition to this issue in India, and the heated net neutrality debate in the United States, I wanted explore the topic further and incorporate another area of the world into my research: Brazil.

My website highlights some of the key factors that play into the net neutrality debate in Brazil, including the formation of the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework. I also chose to look at a specific case regarding the influence of net neutrality in Brazil regarding a popular app known as WhatsApp. My goal is to analyze the current situation in Brazil and look at how this might play into the decisions made by countries in other areas of the world as well. With the mass media and vast amount of options for global connections today, information spreads quickly and the decisions that are made in one area of the world can evidently evoke change for another area.

While researching, I came up with a working thesis that showcases my current thoughts and leaves room for further growth and research as well.

Despite the introduction of the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework in April 2014, Brazil still faces challenges regarding the rights of internet users nationwide. This is synonymous to the issues occurring in other areas of the world as the global nature of media and the internet is beginning to break down national differences.

I hope you use the information on this sight to gain a better idea on how net neutrality affects not only Brazil but the rest of the world, and are able to formulate your own opinion to use in future research, conversations and interactions. Thank you!

 

 

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Local Brazil Global Standpoint

Can a nation like Brazil keep a local identity with the growing global nature of media and the internet? How do the issues in this country compare to the net neutrality issues of similar local networks?

I have begun to outline an interesting perspective between types of net neutrality here, and this is one indication of common goals shared across the globe, while still maintaining an identity that is indicative of the state of the nation. A challenge lies in that the global internet has the potential to distribute information and services to places all over the world, however conflicts arise when the strategies of this global internet come into contact with national, or more local strategies. In some cases, I believe this tension can be beneficial, as what lacks in the strategies of one area may be improved by the close connection to parallel strengths in the other area, however I also see how this tension can eliminate the values of a local population in favor of obtaining a universal standpoint.

In situations like the ban of WhatsApp in Brazil (outlined here), there was tension between a smaller, local court system, and a higher, national system (the Supreme Court of Brazil). In this case, the higher power won; a judge of higher power eliminated the ban on WhatsApp that was previously created by a judge of a more local court system. Does this mean that the efforts of one global internet system will always win over the attempt to maintain a national identity?

This brings into question what the terms “local” and “global” mean in terms of the online world. For Brazil, mobile connectivity is a defining factor in the internet landscape of the country, and what people have access to on their mobile devices will determine the amount of global connection that they have. If there are more divisions on a local level when judging these mobile networks, it is harder to expand these markets to the global level.

“On the one hand, the increasingly global nature of digital media is breaking down national differences, opening up transnational avenues in both industry distribution and audience access. On the other hand, nationally specific contexts present distinct characteristics defined as much by media industries and technology as other sociocultural factors.”

The above passage gives a somewhat objective view on the tensions that can arise due to the rapid spread of information on the internet. The quote is from this article, that outlines these two approaches in judging this contrast between outreach of information and goes more in depth through an analysis of local and global culture specifically in Brazil.

 

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Net Neutrality and Natural Selection

 

I came across an interesting perspective in my research today. Tim Wu, a professor of law at Columbia University, coined the term “neutrality network” in 2003 and since then has constructed an argument comparing net neutrality to natural selection. He states that a neutrality network is not very different from the way in which a private environment handles evolution. Wu’s argument is that the internet network is composed in a style based on the “end to end” principle, meaning that all information is transferred with the same priority level, but ultimately runs based on network performance, evidently meaning that data integrity is only controlled in the very ends of the network. Essentially, all data put out on the internet should have the same chance of “survival,” but this chance of survival will ultimately be determined by the data’s level of performance. Like weaker animals on the food chain, weaker data on the internet will receive less priority due to its weaker performance, a fault that remains with the individual or company that created the information, and not the service provider.

This is an interesting parallel, and while it does seem as though the popular term, “survival of the fittest” is applicable to the content on the global internet, it is still questionable as to whether this natural selection of the internet is due to the construction of the service and information rather than a service provider. How can this be controlled?

Professor Wu does make mention of this, saying that this suggested evolutionary model might not always imply the standing of a neutral network. For example, stronger service providers may have the ability to stimulate more innovation and progress than weaker providers, creating a strong impact on the performance level of the data and internet applications, possibly giving way to a neutrality network violation. I have included more information on the subject here: Shedding Light on Net Neutrality

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