You can’t photocopy money

Tim Berners-Lee has a brilliant summary of why Net Neutrality matters. Yes, it is regulation, but it’s the basic regulation necessary to maintain the fair play rules of the Internet, where any little guy can put up a web site that is just as good as the big guy. If you’re allergic to regulation, consider Tim’s words:

Yes, regulation to keep the Internet open is regulation. And mostly, the Internet thrives on lack of regulation. But some basic values have to be preserved. For example, the market system depends on the rule that you can’t photocopy money. Democracy depends on freedom of speech. Freedom of connection, with any application, to any party, is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and, now, the society based on it.

As much as we like to think that freedom implies a lack of regulation, any freedom depends on a very basic set of rules.

In soccer, there is the “no offsides” rule. In basketball, there is the “no double dribble” rule. In football, well, there are lots and lots of rules. We don’t think of these rules as excessive regulation. We think of them as the things that make the game what it is. Net neutrality makes the Internet what it is. All the fun things we know and love about the Internet are the result of this small layer of neutrality. If we kill this layer, we kill the very properties of the Internet we know and love.