Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Died And It Should Matter To You

Net Neutrality
Image from Wikipedia

Net neutrality is no more. At least for the foreseeable future. A ruling by a federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) 2010 rules to protect the openness of the Internet by ruling in favor of Verizon Communications. (source)

Now, Verizon or any internet provider (except for Comcast*) can control, slowdown or block a website. Say they didn’t like my piece on the destructive force this will be on the Internet. They could keep all Verizon FIOS users from accessing my site. Or they could make Late Enough load so slow that people would give up.

Some background:

In 2010 the FCC implemented Open Internet rules which have three main points (taken from the FCC webpage):

1. Transparency: Broadband providers must disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and the commercial terms of their broadband services;

2. No Blocking: Fixed broadband providers (such as DSL, cable modem or fixed wireless providers) may not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices. Mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services;

3. No Unreasonable Discrimination: Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service. The no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination rules are subject to limited exceptions for “reasonable network management.” View the Open Internet Report and Order.

In 2011, Verizon Communication said its First Amendment rights were being violated by the Open Internet rules (corporations really are people!) as well as arguing that the FCC doesn’t have the right to implement these rules.

In 2014, the District of Columbia Appeals Court ruled 2-1 that the FCC doesn’t have the right to enforce these specific mandates (#2 and #3) but can still regulate broadband. (thank goodness!)

Now, large players on the Internet will be able to pay broadband companies for priority speed and traffic, while small players will, well, be slow and small. Broadband companies state that this priority system will keep broadband cheap because they’ll make money from charging, for example, Netflix to stream movies and TV shows and can pass on this savings to consumers. But why wouldn’t Netflix increase the price for consumers to use its product to offset these new costs? They will so the consumers still pay more and the telecommunication companies still make more money. And if consumers won’t pay? Everyone can just stream shows through Verizon. How convenient! For Verizon!

There isn’t even competition in many areas to keep companies from doing whatever they want. I can choose between Comcast and Verizon FIOS in Richmond, but not everyone even has two choices. Plus, Comcast has the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced, but now, Verizon can take away my favorite websites. That’s not really much of a choice.

And what about the small, creative work on the web? The level playing field that allows everyone a glimpse of fame, fortune, genius or just LOLfun. The Internet makes knowledge and ideas much more accessible and therefore, equal. Good ideas, bad ideas, change-the-world ideas are all at our fingertips whether we use those hands to search for them or create them. Now, consumers can be cutoff from an up-and-coming site that competes with the many interests companies like Verizon or AT&T have or just because they aren’t in the “Internet package deal.” Consumers, who are also innovators, can even be cutoff from their own work.

Net neutrality is a fundamental aspect of the Internet. Without it, the Internet becomes like a cable company where we are forced to buy eight-five channels we don’t care about for the five we do and pay extra for the five we also want except in the Internet’s case, there could be millions of channel we are missing out on. I haven’t had cable in nearly a decade because I was tired of paying too much for channels I didn’t care about and having the ones I did arbitrarily removed, and I wasn’t even a television show or channel creator. Now, the other ways I access TV and movies can be taken away as well as anything else. Any of us can be targeted. Who’s to say yours, my, or the next world-altering idea isn’t next?

 

*In 2007, Comcast was caught slowing down legal, basic websites, some of which competed with their own streaming sites, and the FCC censured them. The FCC lost the case in appeals in 2010. However, when Comcast merged with NBCUniversal that same year, it agreed to follow the Open Internet rules for 7 years even if the courts modified them because of Congress’ fear of it being a monopoly so it will not be affected by 2014 ruling for another few years. (source)

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

5 thoughts to “Net Neutrality Died And It Should Matter To You”

  1. But doesn’t this keep things where they are? We (all us bloggers) have been able to and still have the opportunity to pay for Google ranking for example or facebook advertising as another. I have always suspected that my traffic is being blocked in some way but I proceeded with the assumption that it was my design or maybe anti-virus software issues.

    WARNING: I think you and I are close to agreement. But for different reasons.
    ME: Against it. Less government intrusion. I have always felt the the NNA was a veiled attempt to tax the Internets.

    YOU: Against? Maybe? Not clear here. Want equal access by readers? Okay.

    Take another crack at summing up your position and win me over.

    Maybe we should move our sites onto the Dark Web and be done with it?

    1. Paying for a higher ranking on Google is completely different. That is paying to be a higher up choice for a consumer, whereas knocking down Net Neutrality means that your website might not even show up as a choice.

      It in no way “keeps things as they are”. Right now, an ISP cannot filter, slow down access to, or block content that they disagree with, unless said content is against the law. That is because of those pesky government regulations, at least it was. Without Net Neutrality an ISP could block access to a website that it disagreed with, regardless of the legality of said website. Prior to this appeals ruling ISP’s could not slow down or speed up traffic to specific websites, or groups. After this, it’s just what Alex warns about. I pay more money to Verizon, they speed up access to my site, and slow down/block access to my competitors sites. It harkens back to the monopoly days before the various anti-trust laws came in to place.

      Alex is very much in favor of Net Neutrality, and everyone should be. Without it you are at the mercy of the “wonderful” corporations and their benefice.

        1. Do you remember the first day you plugged a cable into your TV? I do. Dad was totally opposed to the idea because TV was free. Why pay for it. Mom overruled him and the first thing I got to watch was John Wayne in “McQ”. With NO commercials. WOW!

          Wasn’t this the same argument when people stopped downloading music for free and had to PAY for it? Now you can watch TV shows on your phone. Not for free though. Too bad.

          1. *sigh* You’re not getting the point Walt, either it’s not been explained clearly enough to you, or you’re intentionally misreading what Net Neutrality means.

            Currently companies cannot legally throttle access or speed it up to certain sites. They cannot block access to sites just because they don’t agree with the message (unless the site is engaging in illegal activity). When you do away with Net Neutrality, you give the company (ISP) the power to do all of that. They can slow down your access to any site they choose, and have other sites pay to be given faster load times. Heck, they could just block any site that was critical of them doing this…you’d never know it was there.

            Net Neutrality ensures that they can’t do this, it’s why it is so important.

            Nope, not the same argument at all. That was stealing music/TV/movies, they liked getting those things for free…and were breaking the law. Your argument, such as it is, is horribly faulty. Plugging in cable gives you more channels to choose from, and you pay based on the various packages. If you want, you can hook up a digital antenna, and still get the basic channels for free, enjoy. No one was wanting free stuff here, they were wanting it not to be throttled by the ISP.

            For all that you complain about it, it was the “big bad government regulation” that was giving you access to everything on the Internet, regardless of how much Verizon, or another ISP, might not want you to have it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.