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Who Owns The Internet?

As most reading this probably know, the internet as a whole is not owned by any one body, but that doesn't stop people from claiming ownership to it. The internet as we know it is a huge range of servers and networks across the world all connected through phone lines, satellite, and radio. Using different protocols and protections, the results is the same for almost everyone across the world; full access to the global network.

The internet was originally invented as a small data network for academics and governments to use to share information, but this grew exponentially to the trillions of pages we know and love today. As more and more pages are created, people are constantly finding ways to monopolize on the internet, not just through advertising but through denying access to certain sites (see Net Neutrality). Even the people responsible for creating the internet do not claim ownership of it; it has grown beyond any one country, person, or organization.

Somebody saying that they own the internet is like someone saying that they own the radio; they might own a station, but they cannot own the concept or total. Thousands upon millions of people around the world own a small facet of the internet, such as their own private server or website. The only people who own the internet are those who own an internet, not the World Wide Web. For example, North Koreas internet/intranet known as Kwangmyong is owned by their leader; Kim Jong Un. This is not the internet as we know it, but it is a collection of smaller networks available around the country, so it is definitely an internet.

The most important distinction here is that nobody (currently) owns the World Wide Web. Despite this, people and companies worldwide attempt to regulate and charge for access to the internet every day. ISPs are the major example, having historically charged for internet access as they need to, understandably, make a profit and keep their networks maintained. Most people accept this, the service is invaluable in modern life and there is always great value in internet access.

It's critical that people know where ISPs authority ends however, and with Net Neutrality laws being repealed in America this line is becoming more blurred by the day. ISPs should not be politically driven. ISPs should not throttle a users connection speed depending on how much they have paid extra. ISPs should not control which sites a person has access to. And ISPs should not charge extra for content their lobbyists do not like. It's unethical, and it hurts the development and free speech of the world by doing so.

Let's be clear here, ISPs do not own the internet, they regulate the way in which people can access the internet. The favourite example is that of a librarian in a public library; he does not own the books. But if Net Neutrality is repealed, it's comparable to this librarian charging you extra to rent books she doesn't agree with, while giving you her favourite author on your library card.

The people who donated to the library have more ownership than the librarian does, including the authors and builders. People can own servers, and they technically own and control their own corner of the internet, but once something is online, it belongs to the public domain. The internet belongs to everybody, and everybody has a right to it.


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