The world has a fancy way of showing us problems with “the system.” Each and every day, we live our lives to a specific tune; a specific beat of the system’s drums. Every thump of that beat is organized, and calculated by the one superpower that plagues the world we inhabit and call home: money. The idea of net neutrality is no different, and while it is defeated now, the idea of net neutrality will win in the end.
Back in July of 2012, Verizon sued the FCC for the right to edit your internet, and idea that no regular internet user would agree with. Today, the D.C. Appeals Court struck down the FCC’s efforts for an Open Internet. This plan, which is detailed on the FCC website, would require internet service providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, and all other providers around the country to treat all internet traffic the same, effectively giving equal accessibility rights to all of the web. This would mean that companies (with money) wouldn’t be able to abuse ISP customers by bribing for preferential treatment. Much like our screwed up and corrupted political system, companies have nothing legally standing in their way in terms of paying service providers to treat their sites differently than others: Hulu could pay Comcast to make their site a smoother experience than Netflix, or Amazon could give extra money to Time Warner to make their site perform better than eBay, or another marketplace. Comcast could decide to make traffic to their competitor’s services slower, giving customers the illusion of a poor performing company compared to their own services. They could even charge for data usage toward competitive services, while making their own services free, something Comcast has already attempted to do in the past.
While there is no evidence of such ‘bribery for preferential treatment’ yet, the FCC’s plans to make net neutrality stand out would make it impossible for ISPs to get away with such things, which they can technically do today if they wished (and could already be doing to some small extent). For the users of the internet, there’s no better joy than knowing that our experience is open and readily available, without being blocked or somehow circumvented by a third-party company telling us we cannot enjoy it. Telling us that we don’t get to choose what we can and cannot use or purchase. We want a system that works for us, and for us.
Then comes Verizon, the company that has ultimately supplied enough money towards lobbying groups to get this amazing idea of equal treatment overturned and destroyed. A company that has fueled an already broken political system into yet again ruling in favor of the all-mighty dollar. Internet advocates (which is essentially what I’ll label anyone who agrees with an open and equally treated internet), have begun speaking out with their distaste for this ruling, including Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the advocacy group Free Press:
We’re disappointed that the court came to this conclusion. Its ruling means that Internet users will be pitted against the biggest phone and cable companies — and in the absence of any oversight, these companies can now block and discriminate against their customers’ communications at will.
The FCC claims that today’s internet is “open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way. The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as “net neutrality.” Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.”
But the court doesn’t see a problem with how we have it now. They believe that competition is thriving, and that consumers have choices. I guess that’s why the only cable provider in my area is Brighthouse Networks, arguably the worst freakin company in my entire area with the highest prices I’ve ever seen… because there is fair competition in the area, right? They even sighted that the new Google Fiber being launched in a whopping THREE markets, as evidence of competition. Something tells me the old people of the court don’t use the internet very often, and don’t have any issues with ‘choice’ when it come to the worldwide industry they are to make judgement about.
Verizon may have won now, but I don’t believe they’ll win in the long run. The American people, and internet users worldwide all favor an open internet, unfiltered and uncensored by corporate interests, which is something that greedy companies such as Verizon would love to destroy for the sake of a higher bottom line for their shareholders. If they begin charging more money to tech companies as a result of this ruling, you can bet the cost of such events will ‘trickle down’ to the end user. Yes economists, ‘trickle down’ can be used both ways, and in terms of the rising costs of everything we pay for, it always is.
So what will the internet do to retaliate? How will the people who utilize these services the most respond? If evidence of commercial bribery and favoritism as a result of monetary payouts surfaces, what will be done to stop it? It’s important that the people not give up. It’s important that companies rely on the smooth interaction of their customers with their ISP, and the smooth experience being delivered as advertised on their websites, and if word gets out about some dirty acts, what can be done now to stop them?
Imagine what would happen when Netflix and YouTube, the largest bandwidth sources in terms of internet traffic in concerned, are all of the sudden charged as an add-on service with your cable company as a result of how heavily they are using their networks, or have their IP addresses flagged and capped for a limited usage by the ISP. The threat against an open and free internet has continuously been threatened, from SOPA and PIPA, to bandwidth caps on consumers to stop piracy, to even trying out a “graduated response” program.
Without people speaking out and protesting such things, the Verizons of the world could very well destroy the internet as we know it. We must stand up and speak out. We don’t have the money to compete in court, but the people still have the power of words. The greatest thing about the internet is the spread of information. Companies may think they control the fate of their company… but in reality, their customers do. The pattern will continue, just as it has for decades. No matter what legislation comes out of Washington, or what laws are set in place by the government and their corporate puppeteers, the will of the people eventually prevails. That’s why alcohol is legal today, why there are no longer laws segregating blacks and whites, and why same-sex marriage and marijuana will eventually be universally legal and proven as harmless to the worlds people…. because the will of the people always wins in the end, as long as the people continue to fight what they don’t agree with. As long as we stand up and continue to fight what is wrong.
If you agree that net neutrality is the right way to go. If you believe that a free and open internet will continue to lead to greater things, and be the backbone of the digital movements of the future, allowing innovation and consumer interests to thrive in spite of the greed of ISPs and the entertainment industry, then make sure you speak up and let those elected officials know how you feel. Make sure you continue to speak your mind online, and use those free speech rights to tell others how you feel.
I have a website I can write on. If you have one too, write there like I have. Share the word around the web, and speak out against those who threaten the web’s freedom… while you still can. This matter isn’t finished yet, and the FCC is still writing revisions. The US government has yet to ever explain or decide how the internet will be governed, and the ‘www’ standing for “World Wide Web” is still also the “Wild Wild West.” We can hope that this matter will eventually work in the best interests of the people, or we can keep shouting until it does.
I personally wish there was more that I could do. I really do.
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