Pretend for a moment that it’s the year 2020…
Your daily Internet surfing is controlled and only accessible via a “pay-per-view” plan provided by your local provider.
One of the many websites you visit has a “viewing” fee. But, in order to meet your deadline, you need the info to complete a project. You reluctantly pay.
Your instant messaging app is doused with tolls because of the network taxes required to run the service.
How is this possible? With the eradicating of net neutrality, it could be our reality… with immense implications to the United States and global economies. The Internet as you know it today – open, limitless, and instant – would disappear.
Seems horrible, right? That’s not the worst of it.
Today’s clear and present danger is that most private Internet users (people in general) and companies haven’t done much to respond to this havoc-wreaking mess. Yes, that’s you! YOU aren’t rising up and protesting against this grotesque infringement on our freedoms.
So, what’s the big deal? Why is net neutrality important and why is its existence in jeopardy?
Because net neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves a “free and open” Internet, every corner of the U.S. economy depends on the indiscriminate way service providers allow access to it. By altering any form of this principle, net neutrality ceases to exist…and so do your Internet privileges.
There are three points to the abolishing of net neutrality that require your immediate understanding and action:
- Without net neutrality, innovation will be stifled and small businesses will be suppressed. Companies like Facebook, eBay, and many others got their start as small businesses on a free and open Internet. If service providers are regulating access to the Internet (a fast lane versus a slow lane), up-and-coming businesses won’t have the same opportunities as the innovators that paved the way before them. And future industries like the Internet of Things and healthcare won’t progress quickly and effectively.
- In an extensive proposal from the FCC, the first step in abolishing net neutrality is allowing service providers to serve customers (individuals and companies) in a “tiered” format. In addition, if this is allowed and the Internet is declassified as a “common carrier,” providers could be allowed to “double dip” their customers. Imagine having to pay for access to the network and then pay again for pay-per-view websites. All the taxes and tolls under a controlled Internet will be passed on to you, the consumer.
- As history has proved over and over again, discrimination doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. A free and open Internet levels the playing field for all. Without net neutrality, our hobbling global economy – while undoubtedly on the mend – will be hobbled permanently.
But I have hope. I believe the FCC will be overturned and net neutrality will survive as it exists today.
I view the users of the Internet, collectively, as the Karate Kid (yes, from the movie “The Karate Kid”). When the Cobra Kai’s Sensei John Kreese (the FCC) tells his student Johnny Lawrence to “sweep the leg” of the hobbling Daniel LaRusso (the attempt to abolish net neutrality), it was a bitter moment. But despite great motivation and heart, the Karate Kid survived and won the championship and his honor.
That’s hope and perseverance working together. And we possess the same lethal combination to win and preserve the essence of net neutrality. You can make a difference by submitting your comments to the FCC via docket No. 14-28, the “Open Internet Order” at: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=fx3jz.
For a great article on the current net neutrality situation, read this Scientific American update: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nobody-is-neutral-when-it-comes-to-net-neutrality/
Now, go enjoy your net neutrality and surf the Web, start a new business, and uphold your right to a free and open Internet!