by Dan Korvas
To the casual internet user, the term "net neutrality" means nothing. And to the casual user, they probably have never even heard of 4chan and they most definitely didn't hear of the story that unfolded earlier this week. Luckily, members of the giant image boards over at 4chan decided not to take things too far as they have in the past.
For those of you that have not heard of the 4chan website, it is an image heavy message board with millions of members who have the ability to upload media as well as post all of their messages anonymously (due to the high amount of questionable material on their messages boards, I will refrain from linking to this website in this blog. It truly is one of the world's most Unsafe For Work websites). And speaking of Anonymous, this name also symbolizes the title of their loosely-united group of pranksters/hackers who have done such things as bringing several websites to their knees with DDoS attacks. So here we have a humongous community from all corners of the globe, many of them very good hackers and typically do nothing more but pull silly pranks on the internet. Members of this community enjoy their anonymity, but they also enjoy the freedom that they have to access anything (legal) on the internet.
Unfortunately, AT&T decided to deny access to 4chan to many users of their ISP this past week. I am going to assume they didn't know how big of a can of worms they were starting to open by denying access to this site, as things could have gotten very ugly very fast. According to the people at AT&T, they claim that this access denial measure was taken as a security measure as they claim that their ISP customers were being affected by DDoS attacks and had nothing to do with content, or so they say.
The founder of 4chan, known as moot (who, amazingly by the efforts of the anonymous community was voted as Time's World's Most Influential Person) posted all of the goings on with this denial of AT&T users to the site on his blog. Again, this was a crisis that was barely averted had the underbelly of the internet not been defused by the true reason of AT&T's actions.
But that leaves us with the question, what if this was done in an effort to actually block content? I am a huge proponent of net neutrality, albeit not as hardcore as the 4chan/Anonymous movement is, and this is a topic that I am sure will be of great debate in the future. The internet is all about giving people the power to absorb information about anything at anytime, and ISPs should not stand in the way of this right. I just hope that we can all come together as a community and continue to fight for the free-flow of information across the internet.