The White House says net neutrality is Trump’s next target. This is very bad news.
Right now, Trump and the Republican Congress are pushing very hard to allow Internet service providers to charge websites and content providers more money for faster service. And this, of course, would completely break the concept of net neutrality.
So What’s All This Talk About Net Neutrality??
Net neutrality was one of the original basic concepts when the Internet was invented so that people could access information equally from a free and open world wide web, without any discrimination. Basically, it means keeping the Internet a fair and level playing field for everyone. Net neutrality ensures that no one piece of information takes priority over another.
A simple example of this is if you can imagine a huge corporation like AT&T. Now imagine AT&T’s website in comparison to something like one of your favorite local business’ websites. With net neutrality, both websites pay their monthly fee to their network providers, and both websites would use the same pathway to get information to you without any shortcuts or roadblocks. But, without net neutrality, a company like AT&T could actually prioritize their information by making it much faster to access than the information from the local business.
Now imagine that AT&T wants to promote something that is in direct conflict with the information found on the small business’ website. Without any kind of neutrality rules in place, AT&T could set up major roadblocks for that business, making their website so slow that people would just stop using it. Another problem is that AT&T is also a provider. So, what would happen if the provider decided to completely ban content that conflicts with their own beliefs, or with something that they just happen to be promoting? Or if they wanted to block or ban their competitors? That leaves me and you in the middle, and at the mercy of AT&T, or whoever, to determine what we can see online.
Here is a short video that further explains exactly what net neutrality is….
How could this affect me?
There are several ways that this could affect you. Here are just a few….
For starters, this will greatly affect your diversity of content. Without net neutrality, your provider could promote their own web content and services, all while systematically excluding their competitors. It would also really hinder innovation. The next big Facebook or Google would never get a chance because they’d be muscled out by the big corporations running the web.
Discrimination is another problem. Your provider could decide what information that you are able to see by making some things easy to access while making others extremely slow or completely impossible to find. Basically, without net neutrality, the Internet would turn into a “tiered system” where those who can afford it would have the fast lane, and everyone else would be stuck in the slow lane.
One of the fundamental ideas of the Internet from the beginning was that every website, feature, and service should be treated equally, without discrimination. This concept is what allows a blogger, like me, to compete with places like Fox News or CNN. When you do a search for something online, you should be able to pull up all of the things that best match your request, not the things that have paid more money to reach you.
Another problem is double charging. Right now network owners charge you for access to the Internet. Without net neutrality they will be able to charge you not only for access, but also for all of your activities while you’re online. And they don’t even have to charge you directly. Because by charging huge fees to places like Netflix, for example, those places would be forced to pass those charges onto the consumer. And everything you do online would be subject to fees, making the Internet essentially a pay-per-view medium.
Here’s President Obama talking about this very important subject….