Why Should You Care About Net Neutrality?

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What is Net Neutrality? 

I'm sure you've been seeing a lot of articles & debate lately on the subject - but do you really know what it is? What it means? 

Net Neutrality is the basic principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Internet service providers must treat all internet data the same & must not discriminate or charge differently based on the content, platform or website the data is coming from. Under Net Neutrality ISP's are unable to intentionally block, throttle or charge money for specific content. 

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Soooo how did Net Neutrality originally come about? Well, ISP's were doing shady things they weren't supposed to be doing - for example, throttling content from Netflix because it used a larger amount of bandwidth, AT&T was blocking some users from accessing FaceTime unless they purchased a certain data package (this list could go on & on). (This struggle between users, ISP's & .com companies has been going on since the 90's). I'm going to try not to bore you with all of the "political blah blah blah" - Basically, there was a debate to re-classify internet service from one of information (a public good) to one of telecommunication (a public service). President Barack Obama stepped forward in 2014 in support of this re-classification & in 2015 the FCC published it's final rule - legally protecting Net Neutrality. 

So why should you care? Why should it matter if we have gone all of this time without Net Neutrality & everything seemed fine? 

Net Neutrality preserves your right to communicate freely online. 

Have you ever researched into countries that don't have Net Neutrality? Portugal is the example being used all over the internet, so let's go with Portugal as our example. In Portugal, users of the internet not only pay for the internet service / data itself but all services you want to use are sold in bundles that also cost extra. Social media, messaging, music & video are all sold as separate bundles - causing a huge sky rocket in the price that you pay each month to have access to content. Pay the fees or go without. 

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It also restricts competition by charging fees - who is going to pay to access an up & coming app service when you're already paying for the ones you know & love? (i.e. Netflix / Facebook, etc.) Start up companies can't & won't prevail in that scenario & we're left with monopolies & low innovation. Now this isn't to say that as soon as Net Neutrality were rolled back ISP's would just immediately start throttling all of our favorite services & changing their prices - but those are changes that take place slowly over time. They are rolled out slowly enough that by the time they're implemented it's a decade down the road & you've forgotten what it's like to live in a world with a completely free internet. 

It's not that these practices WILL happen, it's that they have the potential to happen. 

Comcast is a big supporter of repealing Net Neutrality laws. They keep "crossing their hearts & hoping to die" that they won't do any of these naughty practices currently outlawed by the FCC. Why would they want Net Neutrality repealed, if they're making all of these promises not do the very things it outlaws? I don't know about you - but to me that makes ZERO sense. Not to mention they've been caught throttling data in the past. C'mon Comcast, WE SEE YOU

Some people will argue that we're all being a bit too dramatic when it comes to this topic - that those types of internet practices won't happen because public blow-back will be too fierce & it will scare ISP's into being good. Or that intentionally blocking your competitors is in violation of anti-trust laws & will cause the market to regulate itself. None of this means that ISP's won't try or lobby for more legislation in support of throttling the content you currently have access to. 

We have laws protecting the land in our national parks - if we didn't have laws protecting that land, do you think that oil companies would just promise to be good & keep their grubby drills off of the property? I think not . . . 

I know that this issue has been pretty heated lately. I'm sure that I've missed something, so feel free to comment if I've left something important out - or if you have anything to add I'm happy to hear opinions on both sides. 

Voting for / against the repeal takes place on December 14th! 

P.S. who will even read my shitty blog if no one has access to it??? 

Here are some links if you'd like to read more about Net Neutrality: 

- Net Neutrality (Wikipedia)
- Net Neutrality In The United States (Wikipedia)
- Net Neutrality: What You Need To Know Now 
- Net Neutrality: Why Should You Care? 
- Battle For The Net 
- If You Want To See What America Would Be Like Without Net Neutrality, Let's Look At Portugal
- Why Concerns About Net Neutrality Are Overblown 
- Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality? 
- What Everyone Gets Wrong In The Debate About Net Neutrality
- Some Professors Caution Against Net Neutrality Rule Change
- FCC Makes Tone Deaf Appeal to Destroy Net Neutrality & Possibly The Internet 

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