Regardless of what your political views are, what social
issues you’re fighting for, or just what your average day to day looks like,
it’s safe to say the existence of net neutrality has an impact on your life.
It’s something everyone should care about, but with all the other injustices
going around it doesn’t seem like the biggest priority, because it’s not like
the internet is going to disappear on us. The reality, though, is that the
fight for net neutrality will probably be our generation’s most important fight.
What the internet evolves into if net neutrality is repealed will be a shell of
what it once was.
If you’ve been living under some virtual rock and have no
clue what I’m talking about, let me oversimplify what’s happening.
On Feb 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality, which
reclassified broadband access as a telecommunications service. This essentially
protected access to the internet under the Title II Communications Act. In Dec
2017 in a 3 to 2 vote, the FCC repelled net neutrality, thus allowing Internet
providers like Comcast and AT to do whatever they like with our
If your eyes just rolled into the back of your head reading
that, don’t worry. That seems to be the common feeling when reading about net
neutrality. The name itself net neutrality just sounds like a boring thing you
don’t want to care about. A better name for it may be net equality because
that’s really what it’s about. Ensuring us, the consumers, an equal and fair
internet no matter how we utilize it.
If this still doesn’t make too much sense to you let’s use
America’s new favorite pastime, binge watching.
Take your favorite streaming site, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon,
Youtube, or whatever streaming site you accidentally spend hours of your lives
watching. Now imagine that streaming site is allowed to control how much server
speed each piece gets.
So, if you’re on Netflix, then all their original content
like “Black Mirror” or “Orange is the New Black” will play just fine, but other
shows or movies not created by them gets only half the speed their shows would receive.
In fact, if a show is too much like one of their own they’ll make it even
slower so it’s impossible to watch without a buffer interruption regardless of
your internet speed.
If we jump over to Youtube, we now see a bigger problem.
Much like many online businesses where the speed their site loads is vital to
their business successes, a new Youtuber needs their content to stream properly
to begin gaining an audience. If their first episode is constantly buffering or
it takes five minutes for it to load enough to be viewed, people will just pass
by to the next, faster video.
Now replace these streaming sites with Internet Providers
like Comcast, AT, and Verizon, and hopefully you can start to see the
problem. Instead of having the power, your favorite streaming sites are the
ones in danger of being killed off by our Internet Providers.
Without Net Neutrality, IPs have the option to provide
different internet speeds to different sites for any reason they want. It’s
more complicated than simply buying the highest package. Even if you’re paying
for the highest package for the fastest internet, if Comcast doesn’t have a
deal with Google that they’re happy with, then Google will be running slower
If you’re running an online business or buy stuff online,
you know that this can affect how those sites run. Without net neutrality, IPs
become mob bosses that can hold your site hostage for more money for whatever
reason they want.
Wth Disney looking to launch its own streaming site in 2019,
don’t be surprised if they pay to slow down other competitor’s internet speeds.
Not only is it smart business, but it would be absolutely legal with net
I can keep giving examples of how all of this will affect us,
but the most important point to make is that giving IPs this kind of power and
authority gives them the ability to manipulate our habits and behaviors. They
will be able to force us into digesting the content they want by slowing down sites containing information and
knowledge they don’t want us to know.
Fake news on social media is a huge issue. Imagine a world
where the fake news was the only
news. A world where all movements and revolutions die because of the wicked
buffer wheel of doom. In this day and age of broadband, the idea of waiting a
full minute for a site to load is basically giving the site the kiss of death.
The argument in support of repealing net neutrality is that
it leaves the door open for competitiveness within the broadband industry. However,
the broadband industry is already a monopoly.
How many Internet Providers do you currently have to choose
from, and how easy is it to work with the said provider? We make jokes every
day on how hard to deal with these companies when something goes wrong. We’ve
all dealt with the ridiculousness of being asked to wait an entire day for
someone to show up to flick a few switches and twist a few wires.
The vote has already passed. That’s that, right? Not
necessarily. A fight is only done when one side submits, and we have yet to throw
in the towel.
Thanks to people like Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and
his 30 co-sponsors, they’ve been able to push forward with the Congressional
Review Act, which bypasses committee review and takes any changes made to net
neutrality directly to a floor vote. This basically means the fate of net neutrality
is in the hands of Congress, which is both a good and a bad thing.
On the bad side, even though there’s mass support for net neutrality
from Democrats, it doesn’t look like we’re seeing the same kind of support from
the Republicans. The good news is the vote is in the distant future – we have
time to garner support from both sides of the aisle. This is because the FCC
has yet to publish their changes to net neutrality in the Federal Reserve,
which is needed to make any alterations official.
We have time to let our congressmen and women know we need net
neutrality. If you need to know who and how to contact your reprehensive you
can find their contact information at https://callyourrep.co/
With midterm elections coming up this year, now is the time
to let them know that a vote against net neutrality will be a vote against them
come November. If net neutrality does get repealed, then use your voice and
your right to vote to put the people that will bring it back in office.
Regardless of your party or political opinion, net
neutrality is a protection we need to keep what little freedom we still have
over our internet. If we lose this, we will lose our ability to do our own thing
and create our own businesses. The changes may not happen overnight, but we
will lose our ability to connect to one and other and with that, we lose our