by KellyAnn Bonnell, MA
. School Districts filter web searches to protect young minds from “inappropriate” content. This makes sense from a developmental perspective and since we serve a diverse community, it is in everyone’s best interests to limit what can be accessed on school computers. Public libraries restrict access to certain content for the same reasons; and workplace networks often place filters on their search engines to keep employees on task. Again this makes sense to many; but where do we draw the line? At what point does protection become censorship. Foreign governments have sought to block certain web pages and Internet applications since the beginning of the open web. In China, the government uses sophisticated software to control which websites can and cannot be accessed. Bloggers receive government warnings for writing words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy.’ Web searches for sensitive keywords often lead to the equivalent of an Internet black hole. Common Cause has a fact sheet that explains why they feel net neutrality is important. You can see more at CommonCause.org
Simply put, Net Neutrality is the idea that the internet should be free of censorship. Internet users should be able to access any content without restrictions or limitations imposed by their internet provider. Students encounter issues related to net neutrality as part of their daily lives. It is a topic that allows them to blur the lines between the often abstract world of the classroom and their very real world.
One great tool to launch the discussion of net neutrality is the original TRON. This film was addressing the issue before it had a name. Honestly before the net was open and available to everyone. It is a piece of science fiction that allows us to explore futurism, civics, and so many other topics. Here is a great media guide that we put together a couple years ago that will allow you to build a fully integrated unit around the film and the concept of net neutrality.