How Much is the Internet Worth to You?
Have you ever gone home excited to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show, only to discover your internet connection is incredibly slow? So slow that you wait, watching that spinning wheel for what feels like an eternity, but it’s so painful that you finally give up?
As a reminder, it feels something like this:
[caption id="attachment_20510" align="alignnone" width="586"] Source: Netflix US[/caption]
If you’ve spent time online this week, you’ve likely seen a few spinning wheels. And you’ve definitely seen the words “network neutrality.”
Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers (such as Comcast and Verizon) cannot control what we as internet users see and do online by blocking, throttling or offering paid prioritization — aka "fast lanes" — for sites who pay, and slow lanes for everyone else.
Currently, we’re protected by net neutrality. But you’ve seen so many sites speak out about the topic because the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has proposed a rollback of those protections in the next few days. This decision to remove net neutrality would be an almost insurmountable setback to the future of entrepreneurship and discovery in the digital age.
We live in a world where websites, people and ideas thrive thanks to three decades of fair, open internet. Where a website like Reddit and a random video of a cat playing keyboard have equal opportunity to find an audience. Net neutrality ensures that the free market — not big business or lobbyists or money — control which ideas, websites and businesses win and lose online. And in the future, many would-be-amazing sites will fail because users will be forced to pay extra to visit them.
As Mozilla puts it:
Net neutrality is fundamental to free speech: Without net neutrality, big companies could censor people and perspectives online. Net neutrality has been called the “First Amendment of the Internet.”
Net neutrality protects small businesses and innovators who are just getting started: Without net neutrality, creators and entrepreneurs could struggle to reach new users. Investment in new ideas would dry up and only the big companies would survive, stifling innovation.
If the FCC has its way, cable companies will make your life even more miserable than they already do. You thought Comcast was bad when they just had terrible customer service and high prices? Just wait until they win the power to slow down any site who refuses to pay for the privilege of the “fast lane.”
We’ll be living in a world where individual users buy internet packages like they do TV. You want to access social media websites? $5 per month. You want news? An additional $5. I hope you don’t plan to watch YouTube or Netflix, because that’ll be an additional $10.
[caption id="attachment_20501" align="alignnone" width="594"] Source: Reddit user quink[/caption]
Now is the time to do research and make your voice heard. This debate isn’t going away anytime soon — at least not with the interests of big business and consumers in such opposition.
It all comes down to a simple question: what kind of internet do you want? The FCC is accepting public comment on its proposed rollback until July 17. Make your opinion count: https://www.battleforthenet.com.