Net Neutrality: Why You Should Care and What You Can Do

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Update on November 21, 2017: This post was written in 2014, but this is still an issue. Call FCC Chair Ajit Pai at (202) 418-1000 and say you support Net Neutrality.

There’s an issue that we should be paying attention to that not enough of us know about: Net Neutrality. Long issue short, Net Neutrality is our ability to access information freely online. The world wide web is supposed to be an open space where we all have equal access to content.

What’s been happening is that Net Neutrality is being threatened because there’s a plan by the FCC that will allow companies like Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner and AT&T to create an internet fast lane and a slow lane, based on what folks can pay for. The best comparison was PolicyMic’s, saying the government is trying to turn the internet into First Class and Coach. This means many of us will end up in the back of the plane, with no snacks and drink. It ain’t right and it’s certainly not fair.

It also means the companies who cannot afford to pay to play might be left behind.

WHO WILL BE AFFECTED: EVERYONE. Small Businesses. Bloggers. Anyone who accesses the internet. EVERYONE!

Net NEutrality

Why Net Neutrality Matters

Without Net Neutrality to control how we receive content online, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can run amok. Basically, the information we receive will be even more based on money and business than ever before. The Huffington Post has a really informative piece on it but I’m hoping I simplify it a bit.

They can discriminate on content they dislike and favor what they do like

So before, your ISP (internet service provider) could not favor one site over another because they had to treat all content they had roughly the same. Without NetNeutrality, they could potentially block your access to any site they wanted, for any reason. Maybe you want to visit AT&T’s website but you’re a Comcast customer? Well Comcast could make sure that when you go to view ATT.com website, it loads SUPPPEEERRR slow.

Cartoon by John Trevers

Cartoon by John Trevers

On the other side of the spectrum, if an ISP partners up with another media conglomerate, then that site might be super fast. This special treatment won’t be good for little sites because they could be blocked completely (in extreme cases) or just not even be able to pay for play.

They can make you pay for faster content delivery

Creating an internet fast lane would mean that people would be pressured to pay a premium if they don’t want websites they visit to load slow. Usually, if a site you’re visiting loads slow, it’s because of that particular website itself. If we don’t have NetNeutrality, your ISP can make you pay extra so your site won’t act like AOL dialup.

Bloggers, this affects us tremendously because our hosting fees could easily go up if we want to compete. Also keep in mind that since Google applies load time of your website to SEO (search engine optimization), if you accept the slow lane, your rankings might drop. Which means your traffic would drop and those ad dollars won’t look so sweet. IT MATTERS. Small business owners, this affects you too. You might have to throw more money at your websites for the same reason.

Nooooooooooooo gif

Services like NetFlix will be affected

Imagine if your NetFlix bill had to double because they had to pay Time Warner a premium so streaming movies and shows won’t slow to a crawl. Yes. There’s a real possibility of something like that happening. OR if there was nothing NetFlix could do if Time Warner decided it wanted to be a hater and block online video streaming. Without the protection of NetNeutrality, we won’t be protected from ISPs discriminating against entire types of traffic.

YALL WILL NOT TAKE MY BINGE-WATCHING AWAY FROM ME!!! NO YOU WILL NOT!

Basically, this all sucks. SUCKS! The ONLY people who will benefit from this are the Internet Service Providers. They’ll get to tax us even more for subpar service and attach a price to what is and has been a right. The people who will suffer the most if NetNeutrality is struck down will be people of color, poor people, small businesses and basically anyone who isn’t Upper Class. That is MOST OF US so we should care.

We cannot let Net Neutrality die!

Button by Fight for the Future

Button by Fight for the Future

What You Can Do

What’s important right now is that the public let its voice be heard about this matter. There are few things as important as Freedom of Information and this battle is a real threat to it. There are many groups who are fighting for Net Neutrality (FreePress, Fight for the Future, Electronic Frontier Foundation).

File a comment with the FCC – Due to public pressure, the FCC is accepting public comments on this issue for the next 100 days. You can include yours simply through the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s DearFCC.org and it will be send directly to them. It’s been filled out too so 2 clicks and you’re done!

Send a letter to the FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler – Let him know why Net Neutrality is important to you. It’s already filled out for you so it’s easy.

Sign a Petition telling the FCC to restore NetNeutrality – Let them know that you want them to restore the rights of a free and open internet by signing this petition!

Let your voice be heard, folks! Also check out:

1. More Than 1 Million People Call on FCC to Save Net Neutrality – Free Press
2. Feds Can’t Enforce Net Neutrality: What This Means For You – NPR
3. Verizon’s Net Neutrality Victory Means More Fighting to Come – Bloomberg Technology
4. 5 Freedoms You’ll Lose Without Net Neutrality – Tom’s Guide

Have you been hearing about the battle for Net Neutrality or is this the first time it’s come across your eyes?

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