The Fight for Net Neutrality: What is it and How it can Affect You?

Today (12th July 2017), some of the biggest names in the world of internet will look and feel different in the battle for Net Neutrality.

Netflix, Amazon, AirBnB, Spotify, Vimeo and a host of other major players in the online world are coming together to protest against the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) attack on Net Neutrality.

And activists are standing by to share content via Facebook, Twitter and Reddit in preparation for today too.

This was originally supported by the Obama administration in 2015 after a previous campaign by activist groups and tech companies.

So why all the fuss? What’s the big deal?

What is Net Neutrality?

The whole principle around net neutrality is about allowing you to have the right to communicate freely online.

It will will ensure the open communication by prohibiting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and US government entities from favouring, blocking, diverting or throttling certain websites.

Simply put; Net Neutrality guarantees us to have free access to all content and fobids ISPs from deciding from interfering the content you view or post online.

Why we need net neutrality by Vimeo

The big names in the US cannot block, speed up or slow down data from particular sites just because they have paid to do so.

In the past, companies and activists have protested against how the internet should be governed. But it is under attack again after a proposal to reappeal by Chairman Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who must be stopped from destroying the open internet.

What Would Happen Without Net Neutrality?

Without it, the internet is not really the internet.

If you look at how the internet has paved the way for so much innovation, freedom and community-based environments, it would become a closed-down network.

Cable/phone companies and government entities will call all the shots and decide who is heard and who isn’t.

They can block websites or content they don’t like.

Imagine life with this message — Image via TYKLAY

They could slow down its’ competitiors content or block political opinions if they do no agree with it.

And equally as bad, they could charge fees to the few content-based companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment, thus pushing everyone else down.

And that can destroy the internet as we know it today.

Who Are Particpating in the Battle Against Net Neutrality?

Simply put, below will give you just a small demo of the big names who are participating on 12th July 2017

Image via battleforthenet.com

And you can see the entire list here.

Why is Net Neutrality Important for You as a Business Owner?

It’s not just for political movements, freedom of speech and civil rights, but Net Neutrality is crucial for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs.

If you are relying on the open internet to launch and run their business, advertise and promote their products and services, and reach out to as many customers as possible, Net Neutrality is critical for you.

By leveling the playing field, it will allow your small business and entrepreneurial activities to be able to thrive online.

If it wasn’t for Net Neutrality, your online business would struggle as the ISPs will act as a gatekeepers and control your online visibility.

Heck, without it, the next Google or Facebook would never be able to grow.

How You Can Join In?

There are a number of ways for you to join in the protest.

You can register for the “Battle for the Net” by submitting your details here and be part of the Fight for the Future; a not-for-profit organising which is “is dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power in our lives by creating civic campaigns that are engaging for millions of people.”

Automattic are also fighting against Net Neutrality and have provided options for WordPress users to to join in today by releasing a plugin just for today.

If you are a WordPress.com site owner, you can turn on the plugin by going to your Settings tab in your dashboard. At the top, you will see a toggle switch and if you flip it on to (blue), it will enable the plugin.

If you are a self-hosted WordPress site owners who want to participate, you can download and install the Net Neutrality plugin here. After installing it, go to your dashboard, click on Settings > Fight for Net Neutrality and enable the plugin from there.

Enabling the plugin will replace a few of your posts with a “Still Loading” spinner to signify what life would be like without Net Neutrality and which features the dreaded slow lanes.

The plugin is already activated on my own site.

After today, the plugin will automatically disable and your site will return to normal.

If you are not comfortable about slowing down some of your posts as part of the protest, you can go for a more alternative method like display widgets.

A couple of plugins which allows you to do that are Internet Defense League Cat Signal and Fight for the Future Alerts.

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You might think that this is not for you, particularly as it will mainly be affecting the US market.

But the online world is a small place, and it will affect you.

If you use Netflix, Amazon, Twitter et al. then you will lose your right to access these sites freely.

If you run a website, the ISPs in the US will control how accessible is your site within the US.

And if you are based in the UK, when it will be your fight?

Yep, Brexit.

So really, it will affect you.

So join in the fight and battle for Net Neutrality.