Threat to the net.
I’m throwing my hat into the ring as well. If you follow me on Facebook, or Instagram, then you’ve definitely seen me post about it already (incessantly and its probably getting annoying.. Good). I know it’s annoying, but it matters. The internet is not a simple luxury anymore. The internet has become essential in our everyday lives. We educate, connect, prosper, and entertain. Let me tell you a little bit about how all of this is at risk.
What even is it?
Net Neutrality’s role is to keep the internet free and fair for the consumers/users. It keeps Internet Service Providers (such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc.) honest. It makes it so that your service provider cannot dictate your access to the internet. That means that if Hulu is partnered with AT&T (which they do, just by the way), then they would be allowed to maximize the speed at which you access Hulu, while throttling your access speeds to, let’s say, Netflix. They could also just completely disallow access to Netflix if they wanted to.
Sooooo.. Why does that matter?
This of course is just one example, and a seemingly low-importance. I use it to show an everyday example that everyone would have to deal with. Let me explain something that is of MUCH higher importance. Think about having limited and/or throttled access to knowledge or research. I mean in the sense of news and world events. This could mean that if AT&T has a strong alliance with a certain political party or news providers and platforms, then they could limit your pursuit of understanding or even seeing what is happening if it isn’t directly on the platforms that they suggest. This is terrifying in the fact that they wouldn’t only be open to monopolize for monetary gain (because they’re greedy and we already know that) but they’d also regulate what you see and where you see it which is essentially allowing ISPs to push you to align with their tailored agenda without you being able to realize it or do anything about it. This is an issue whether you agree with that ISP or not. If you don’t agree, well then too bad. If you do agree, then you’ll be completely cut off from ever seeing the other side.
Big players will get fast lane access, and everyone else has to do their best in the slow lane. Currently, the internet is open to anyone and everyone. Newcomers and small businesses have the opportunity to offer new/unique/improved services or products and don’t have to pay to market, and grow on the internet. The current state of the internet is such an open playground for ground-breaking, world changing, or just entertaining ideas, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Post a video to YouTube, go viral, and create new and greater opportunities. If net neutrality gets slashed, it becomes a pay-to-play/pay-to-win model that will leave those that can’t pay the gate fee to crumble under the weight of trying to fight for (much-needed) attention.
Why should regular consumers care?
Not only will that be bad for small-businesses and entrepreneurs, but let’s go back to the everyday consumer point-of-view. Everything on the internet could be monetized. What that means is that your access to everything on the internet could potentially become subscription based. Want to access Facebook? Gotta pay for it. Want to watch or post videos on YouTube? Gotta pay for it.
Why can’t I just pick another provider?
Hah. Good luck. Internet Service Providers already hold (almost) regional monopolies. Right now, think about your options. You may have only one option, sometimes two, and if you are reeaaaaaally lucky then you have three options. They already charge absurd amounts of money for spotty, and sometimes absolute terrible service because they are your only option. They don’t have to do better, or try harder for you to pay for their service. Would you trust them to do right by the consumers if Net Neutrality gets slashed? Think about this for a second. How many times have you been on the phone with Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, or whatever your ISP might be. How many hours have you spent on the phone, to get absolutely nowhere when you know for a fact that you have been dealt a disservice. They’d get to decide how you use the already poor service that you have to pay for.
WHOA, So how can I help stop this?!
The simple question is, could you trust your ISP? If not, then join the hundreds of thousands of people that have joined the Battle For The Net. If you visit that link, you can directly send an email or call your congressperson. Along with that, you can read much more about what Net Neutrality is and how it can affect you if it does get gutted.