Gutting Net Neutrality is an attempt to control information
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is a simple concept. At it’s very basic meaning, it is an order that all internet traffic must be treated equal without regard to source, destination, or monetary compensation. This means that the traffic from The Washington Post and The Intercept must be treated the same as traffic from Facebook or this very blog. The idea behind it is even more simple… a company may not censor or charge for access to specific traffic. A company may not prohibit users from accessing or charging a special fee for access to a specific site or stream of information.
Why does it matter? Why is everyone worried about it being removed? Isn’t that a business decision for the ISP?
Simply put… no… it is not a simple business decision. Most information is gained or verified over the internet. In our modern world, information is less in books than it is on servers around the globe. Access to basic information is a right. We all know the famous saying “Knowledge is Power.” The real power isn’t knowledge though, it’s the control of knowledge.
Giving a single business the ability to control access to information for a large company is simply a mistake. Companies have a vested interest in controlling access to information. Verizon, Comcast, and several other ISPs tried blocking access to Skype previously because they had a vested interest in forcing you to purchase their phone service instead of using Skype. The Net Neutrality ruling removed their ability to block access to services and information because they want to force you to pay for what would otherwise be free information. The same goes for any number of other services.
Several ISPs tried adding Streaming packaged to their internet service packages before the Net Neutrality ruling. Instead, you had to pay $10 to access Netflix, or $20 to access a variety of other streaming services. That cost is on top of your regular service charges and on top of your charges by the streaming services. The only reason for these charges, where to get income since those users would not be purchasing cable TV service from the ISP.
Some may argue that an ISP has the right to control access and promote their own services. What you may not realize is that you are being force to pay extra money for access to something you contractually already pay to access. Your internet package does not specify a specific set of websites or services. They are enacting a fine for access to services from a competitor. They are making additional income off competitors IP and service offerings.
What does this have to do with control of information?
If the Net Neutrality ruling is gutted, this will not just allow ISPs to control your access to sites like Netflix. They will have the ability to control access to any site or service they deem fit. You want unbiased news? Too bad, you can’t have it because Comcast says you can only access the news organizations they own. You want to look up information on Wikipedia? Too bad, Comcast has decided the term you are searching for should not be accessible and blocks the request.
ISPs would essentially be given control over the worldwide sharing of knowledge. People already don’t like how the last election went. Imagine what the next election will be like if a few companies with vested interests in the outcome of an election, can control your access to information about other candidates. Not just remove your access to any information about other candidates, but actually only allow results from sites with negative information, bad information, or propaganda.
Keep in mind, most libraries at schools consist of a couple thousand books at most now. They are mostly computer labs with online access. ISPs would literally have the ability to control access to information from the time kids are born. People in North Korea don’t think Kim Jong Un is a deity because they just decided that… it’s because they were only allowed access to information stating as much.
Will this happen?
Yes. Maybe not to the North Korea extent… but it WILL happen if companies are permitted to control information. Verizon has already clearly stated their intent to do so. Comcast has hinted at it, but will not directly state as much. Companies WILL exploit this.
Not making a choice to take action is a choice in itself. You are complicit. Do something about this and do it NOW. Contact your reps and tell them not to destroy our future and our children’s future. Click here to use the EFF form to contact Congress. It will take only a few minutes and you won’t have just stood there as the books are burned.