The Battle for Net Neutrality

Yesterday, you may have noticed a lot of attention being paid to the issue of “net neutrality”. Net Neutrality is a complex issue that involves government legislation, billion dollar internet service providers (ISPs) and all of us (denizens of the internet).  <!–more–> 

For those that are into the whole brevity thing, here is the tl;dr:

Net neutrality helps to ensure that large internet service providers, such as Comcast, Verizon and others can’t control access to content/sites on the internet and charge the user (us) obscene fees to use the web.

Books about net neutrality on Amazon

Still a bit fuzzy? Here’s an analogy – Inspired by/credit to Reddit

“Imagine if a private company built all the roads in the United States and the road builder gets to decide you can drive 80mph if you’re going to, say, McDonalds, but you can only drive 20mph if you’re going to Burger King.

The road builder just happens to also own a movie theater. So, the road builder will only let you drive 5mph when going to an AMC. But if you want to go to his movie theater, well, you can drive 80mph.

Also, the roads kinda suck regardless and haven’t been upgraded in decades so the federal government gave them money with the express requirement that they upgrade the roads but the road companies took the money and basically said $%&# you, we’re not upgrading anything and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

What do we stand to lose?

Courtesy of Fight for the Future

Without strong protections, Cable and phone companies like Comcast would be able to:

  • Slow video streaming sites, causing your videos start and stop unexpectedly.
  • Add you new fees to your Internet bill. Imagine paying extra for YouTube!
  • Censor videos or content they don’t agree with, like political blogs.
  • Throttle any new sites or apps they don’t own or invest in.
  • Make your connection painfully slow, and charge you more to make it work again.
  • Force streaming sites like Spotify into a slow lane, causing them to buffer constantly.
  • Slow online gaming. Call of Duty could lag and glitch without paying more to your ISP.
  • Charge big sites special “prioritization fees” and slow down everyone else.
  • Take you out of the driver’s seat, and control what you see and hear online.
  • Make the Internet look a lot more like cable TV. (i.e. the endless sorrow and self loathing)
  • And, worst of all, become the first gatekeepers of the Internet in US history.

Net neutrality says we get the *entire* web without interference – no gatekeepers, no tollbooths, no slowlanes.

This is why it is considered the First Amendment of the Internet. It protects our free speech in the digital age.

Who else is onboard?

On the 12th, a large host of companies and organizations pledged their support to protect net neutrality. Companies and organizations such as Google, Netflix, and The ACLU have made it clear that net neutrality is imperative to maintaining the internet that we love.

What is the upside to repealing net neutrality?

  • Well, if you really hate the government and believe that there should be no regulation of business, then you may well support repealing net neutrality based entirely on principle.
  • If you are a CEO or major shareholder of an ISP, you stand to make a ridiculous amount of money by bleeding your fellow citizens dry and having the power to control what information they have access to.
  • If you are a politician that has taken large sums of money from ISPs and stand to gain even more money by pushing legislation that would repeal net neutrality.

If you don’t find yourself in any of these categories and enjoy a free and fair internet, then you may want to read more.

Don’t let the dark days of cable TV return

Courtesy of FreePress

“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has unveiled his plan to dismantle Net Neutrality.

Here it is in a nutshell: Abolish Net Neutrality. Cross our fingers that the phone and cable companies promise to be good.

Some additional reading on Net Neutrality from Amazon

Yeah, right. These are the same companies that promise to be at your house between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and don’t show up until the following week. The same companies that were caught repeatedly violating Net Neutrality before strong rules were on the books. The same companies that admitted that if it weren’t for Net Neutrality they would discriminate against websites and content.”

Wow, that’s scary. What can I do to help?

Yesterday was about creating awareness and it’s crucial that we keep the momentum going.

  • Find your representative and send them a message, telling them that protecting net neutrality is crucial.
  • You can send petitions to the FCC via sites like this
  • Go to the FCC directly and click “+ New Filing / + Express” to create a new comment
  • Spread the word through social media or good old fashioned face to face interaction
  • Show your support by displaying these images on social media

For more information, you can visit these sites to learn more and find out ways to help:

You can also check out videos like this:

Got some thoughts on Net Neutrality? Leave them in the comments below. Otherwise…save our internet.

Matt Benevento is a content contributor to The Geekiverse, avid PC gamer and always up for a heated geek related debate.

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