Whataburger and Net Neutrality

Bobby Hill at WhataburgerI don’t usually write about nation issues. There are plenty of blogs and other sources on that subject. However, national politics recently intruded into my process of updating the fourth edition of our textbook.

Most Monday mornings during the summer, I stop by Whataburger, get myself a Jalapeño Cheddar biscuit (okay, two), and do a little editing. Can you really write about Texas politics without spending some time at Whataburger?

The good folks at Whataburger provide WiFi so that I can check out Internet sources while there. I was trying to get the some numbers on state revenue when I smacked into this digital wall:

Request denied by WatchGuard HTTP proxy.  Reason: one or more categories denied helper='PublicAP-WebBlocker' details='Gambling'  Method: GET  Host: www.txlottery.org

The numbers I needed were on the state’s revenue from the lottery. It turns out that the good people at Whataburger wanted to protect me from gambling. The fact that it was state-sponsored did not diminish their concerns. I also found myself protected from happyplace.someecards.com for “Adult/Sexually Explicit.” (The content I was trying to get to was “Thieving dog apologizes to baby for stealing her toy“) Well intentioned? Maybe. Clumsy and mistaken? Yes.

It was a reminder of why I don’t want anyone between me and content. The Internet has remained remarkably free of government censorship and I’m now concerned about corporate control. I spend too much time sitting through insufferable Suddenlink ads while watching cable television to trust my cable company’s intelligence or intentions. I don’t want to give these companies any more control over my life.

I accept Whataburger’s WiFi rules. However, they don’t try to regulate my food intake when I’m home. I don’t want my Internet provider regulating information intake.


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