If you’ve been hidden under a rock for the past week or so, you might not know that a large portion of America has been fighting against Ajit Pai, who’s the culprit in the FCC’s Net Neutrality meeting early Thursday morning, with went in his favor of repealing what are essentially our internet privileges and freedoms.
Before I go on with my thoughts, let me first say, thank you to Mignon Clyburn. Quite possibly my favorite person of the week, Mrs. Clyburn has been consistent in her points of keeping net neutrality, and I absolutely agree with her. A commoner at the Federal Communications Commission since being nominated by former President Barack Obama back in June of 2009, she’s been fighting the good fight in attempting to keep what’s known as Net Neutrality sacred for the good people of America. Then all hell broke loose.
In a nutshell, New neutrality prevents Internet service providers (or ISPs) from slowing down connections for users to access sites, apps and services. Which means the ISPs can prioritize sites and services however they see fit. You can basically see the end result of today’s Net Neutrality verdict as putting the internet in either the slow lane, or the HOV. Being able to cripple the end user’s ability to surf the web freely can be detrimental in all formats, from gaming, browsing or streaming. Companies like AT&T and Verizon have been attempting to work around the FCC rules for years, taking measures such as throttling customers without data caps, and today is just another way of giving companies like theirs the ability to decide what you consume, and how (if they haven’t been doing this already).
TL;DR – We’re about to get what could be considered a “Closed Internet”.
While there are plenty of alternative means to communicate via the internet, the repeal for Net neutrality, that means some of your favorite sites: Twitter, Facebook, and even sites like our beloved Gear Diary are currently in peril.
A coworker of mine who didn’t follow the news much tried to get me to make it “make sense” to him, and the best advice I could give him was as this one:
Say you have a network provider (in my case, Verizon FiOS) that you use for your home network. With the repeal in place, FiOS would be able to tell which devices were being used on my service, and on your next bill the company would be able to charge different rates according to the devices that you use. So even though you have a set bill for say an Unlimited Data package, or even a tiered plan, they would be able to charge you at different rates because of your devices, and the devices connected to those.
Oh, let’s not forget the fact that the prices could be completely adjusted by the company whenever they see fit. So for large sporting events like the World Series or Olympics, FiOS would be able to uncharge you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Now relate this to the things that we use daily. With this in play, companies can nickel and dime you to use functionalities you’ve used for YEARS, for free (Twitter for example). Imagine having to pay for the ability to tweet… we saw how that came and went with a little company by the name of App.net.
Without making it too political, I will leave a tweet from 2014, where Ted Cruz compared Net Neutrality to Obamacare (because clearly anything that can be compared to Obama just must be a negative, and should be seen as such).
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014
With that tweet, my response is just this: Comcast feels the same way, Mr. Cruz, I’m certain.
What does this mean for YOU: this means that ISPs might actually begin throttling or slowing down and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. Now this still will be contested by Congress of course, but in the event this still goes into Mr. Pai’s favor, we want you be to be fully aware that companies who quite possibly overcharge for their services already may attempt to sell you back your currently functioning services at a higher rate (again, looking at you Verizon). There are companies that have already begun mirroring this behavior with companies like Netflix cutting a bulk of their streaming media out of their platform, but coincidentally raising prices while customers raise their eyebrows. Sounds like a mafia movie shakedown right? If only Tony Montana were able to dodge that final blow by Alejandro Sosa.
Luckily for us, we still have a fighting chance here., and fight we shall. Mr. Pai and his constituents still have to defend themselves in court, which they have already approached and lost twice, but you still have a large voice in the matter. You can find out your government representatives by checking out one of the following sites that may be able to assist you in debating the matter:
• https://democracy.io/#!/ (will send an email on your behalf to your senators.)
My personal thoughts are that today’s result is a minor setback, but we should still be prepared for the worst, with the worst being competition from different brands, but more importantly — innovation. Giving already thriving companies the unnecessary leg up on an already free market essentially means that ISPs did a bait and switch to the consumer, normal people like you & I. It makes you wonder… how can politicians go and make a 3-2 vote on something that not most, but the MAJORITY of the population is again?
For now, the best we can do is keep our ears on the streets, hope that the Net Neutrality Bill can be discussed by Congress without them compromising the wants of the people. I’ll leave you with a quote that’s possibly a Tweet drafted on Mr. Pai’s social media account:
You can do it your own way…. if it’s done just how I say – James Hetfield