Broadband technology is one which permits the transmission of multiple signals and traffic types between multiple users. Though it has far more uses than this, it is most often used for and associated with connecting users the modern internet. In today’s international society, life without internet seems ridiculous and nearly impossible. It is so ingrained into our daily lives that we have nearly come to take it for granted. However, there are many areas both in the United States and throughout the world where this luxury does not exist. Many arguments in recent times have been made for a government managed broadband network, much like the infrastructures already set i place and managed federally such as electricity and sewage systems. If we are to give such a service over to the control of the government, however, I believe we must ask what affects this will have. Many believe that a free market system is far and away the most responsible (and American) method of handling broadband service. Others argue that if such a network truly is vital to both the American and international economies, it would be prudent to ensure its survival by its incorporation into the arms of our government.
Current studies have shown that broadband internet access has far more implications than simple entertainment. In Germany, “OLS results suggest a positive association between DSL availability and voter participation across German municipalities.” (1) If further studies corroborate this conclusion, than it can be inferred that widespread internet access will result in a more politically educated and knowledgeable public. However, if this is the case would it not be best to keep the control of the government as far away from it as possible? In a society prone to loss of privacy for the sake of public safety, it would seem that a complete control of broadband internet access would more than open up possibilities for potentially corrupt and even authoritarian government practices. Therefore the question must be asked: how much power are we willing to relinquish to our governments in this regard for the sake of security? Security not only of ourselves, but for our infrastructures as well.
Any new technology undoubtedly has the ability to gain its own political consequence. However, broadband technology is not necessarily new. In a country such as the United States, where free speech is seen in as high a regard as our own personal safety, are we willing to possible give control to our own government of this technology for the sake of high efficiency? As our population grows and demand for broadband access grows with it, I believe this is a question which will soon demand to be answered. As with any gain of power for any government, the people must remain wary of its abuse. However, at a certain point the wills of the corporations on charge of such services can be seen to be as or more malicious than any other government entity. As with many other things in today’s age, only time will tell.
1. Nina Czernich. 2012 Broadband Internet and Political Participation Evidence for Germany. Kyklos 65, 31-52.
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