Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Fight For Net Neutrality

Today is a day of action to stand with #NetNeutrality.

In under 5 days, the FCC will no longer accept comments on the "Restoring Internet Freedom" referendum. The new FCC chair wants to dismantle Title II rules of the Communications Act. Title II provides the legal foundation for Internet Service Providers (ISP's) like Verizon and AT&T. It prevents ISP's from intentionally throttling internet connections when you download or upload content. Or charging websites extra to ensure that they are seen "first" for consumers, and pass the billing to users. Or charging websites to make sure they are not blocked from the ISP. Basically, it's a legal precedence to prevent ISP's from abusing their control over the internet and preventing people from accessing any online content.

That is what is at stake. If Title II rules are removed for ISP's, they will have free reign to command the internet as they see fit. Now companies like Verizon have said they don't plan on charging customers and websites extra to be seen, but without Title II, all we have is their word. There is nothing written in a legally binding manner to support this. It's an empty promise.

The argument for removing Title II is that it will help ISP's expand, claiming that they will provide better service to their consumers. Instead of a "fast lane" there will be a "faster lane" for those who pay more. 'Last Week Tonight' with John Oliver has a series of episodes covering this. While the shows does favor Net Neutrality, it does provide the views of the opposing side. It's important to know and understand both positions before moving forward.

What could happen if ISP's no longer have to follow Title II?

AT&T could block some of your favorite websites to prevent you from accessing them. Amazon. eBay. Twitter. Steam. Twitch. Your local gaming store. Your blog. All of it could be put behind an additional paywall that requires you to "upgrade" your internet services so you can get to that content. Not that we in the U.S. don't already pay a lot for access to the net, with some of the highest pricing schemes and lowest download/upload speeds globally.

Or, ISP's could double dip. Blocking content from consumers so the customers have to pay more, and blocking companies unless the business pay the ISP the "privilege" of being seen on their services.

My favorite is the traffic throttling. Yep. Without Title II, your ISP no longer has to guarantee that you'll be that 100 MB upload/download. If you pay for 100 and only get 2, oh well! You can't do anything about it. Your online gaming and Netflix streaming will come to a grinding halt. Unless you pay more, of course.

The internet came to be as a means of providing digital communication and exchange of ideas freely, without the limitations of mail, faxes, and phones. The original creators (not Al Gore) have never attempted to profit from the venture. They were scientists providing a digital revolution to the world without asking for anything in return. They wanted a platform that was open - and that's how the internet should remain. Not behind paywalls that only the extremely wealthy are able to afford.

Without the internet, we wouldn't have the creative spark of YouTube. Which helped build a new generation of entertainment and re-formed cable television into the amazing mecha of quality that we see today.

Without the internet, we wouldn't have the connections to people half a world away like we do today. Being able to talk to other people in real time, without the delays of phones and faxes.

Without the internet, we wouldn't have the mecha of Wikipedia - a source of knowledge, understanding, and reasoning. A digital encyclopedia that provides more content then any book could handle.

Without the internet, we wouldn't have cat memes.

If nothing about this post affects you today, at least think of the cat memes. Learn more and let your voice be heard at Battle for the Net.

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