Net Neutrality – In My Opinion
I am sure by now, you have seen the new internet privacy bill that was passed a couple of months back. Well, I guess it is my turn to add my two cents. So, hear goes.
When the new internet privacy bill was introduced, the chief argument from the service providers perspective was that they want to level the playing field with other corporations, such as google, facebook, amazon, etc.. who have the ability to see and use your search criteria to create ads that will be of interest to you. Today your internet service provider (ISP) does not have that ability. Now, if you think about, this is a flawed argument because most can choose which search engine they use or which social media sites that they go to. However, if your state is anything like mine, your choice of internet service providers are extremely limited. Typically, there is only one internet service provider in your location. The fact that there is little to no competition when it comes to service providers could put consumers at the mercy of said service providers. Here is an example: What if your internet service provider were to offer you this ultimatum; If you don’t allow them (service provider) to market your data, then you will be blocked from accessing the internet or they could put you on a lower class of service. Because of the passage of this new legislation, this is a real possibility.
Since the implementation of this new lack of privacy bill, there has been some good things at the state level. So far 10 states, in response to this legislation, have enacted their own bills to protect the privacy of their constituents. This is obviously a trend that we want to continue.
This leads us into a discussion of Net Neutrality. You may or may not have heard this term before, but let me assure you, that you have real “skin in the game” so to speak. Meaning there is a fight that is currently going on that most consumers are not aware of and it will have major implications on how the internet of the future is run and ultimately controlled. Before we go too far down that rabbit hole, let’s define Net Neutrality. It basically means to have an open internet. Even more than that, It means that consumers can go where they want, when they want on the internet as long as it is not illegal. A good analogy for net neutrality versus tiered network access (opposite of net neutrality) is that it is the difference between treating the internet like your utilities, i.e. gas or water, versus the internet being treating it like cable tv. So with net neutrality, service providers are not allowed to block, throttle, or provide paid prioritization. Net neutral is the way the internet was intended to be.
So, what is at the root of why internet services provider want to kill Net Neutrality? The simple answer in my opinion is, MONEY. We must keep in mind that internet service providers are in business to make money, after all, we are a capitalist society. So, for internet service providers, net neutrality could cost them billions in potential revenue. Here is a scenario, without net neutrality, ISPs will have the ability to market “fast lanes” to large companies, giving internet services providers the ability to charge premiums to these companies for the ability to have faster internet connection speeds to those company websites and products. As you can imagine this would negatively impact most small to mid-sized businesses and kill competition because they wouldn’t be able afford the premium service charges and thus it would be more difficult for consumers to find them online. This would amount to preferential treatment. They could also do what is called “Zero-rating”, which is something that DirecTVNow benefitted from with AT&T. This is the practice of removing the data cap for certain content, so that consumers can watch DirecTVNow as much as they want without having the bandwidth usage count against their data plan. This would effectively influence customer’s decision on what content to watch and from whom to watch it. This would kill competition and inevitably drive up cost that could be passed on to consumers.
So, what can we do about this? Honestly, the best thing to do is to contact your local government representatives and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and let them know that you are against the removal of net neutrality. It is imperative that we keep the public internet public. We must avoid a situation where there are different classes of internet. This would mean a tremendous net loss for fair access to information.
EIDAM, E., & MULHOLLAND, J. (2017, April 10). 10 States Take Internet Privacy Matters Into Their Own Hands. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.govtech.com/policy/10-States-Take-Internet-Privacy-Matters-Into-Their-Own-Hands.html
Finley, K. (2017, January 02). This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2017/01/year-donald-trump-kills-net-neutrality/
Open Internet. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.fcc.gov/general/open-internet
Smith, I. (2017, March 31). Before you lament the end of your internet privacy, read this. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/lament-end-internet-privacy-read/