Net neutrality has been a hot button issue over the past decade, with service and content providers locked in an eternal struggle lobbying politicians to move the line one way or another. If you’re not already aware, net neutrality is what allows individuals and small organizations the same opportunity to be heard as large corporations and governments.
It seems like a small thing, but it’s vitally important and the dividing line between TV and Internet. On TV, the conversation is one way. You don’t get to interact with the game show host or commercial – they tell you the message they want. Internet is a two-way conversation in which we all get to engage and voice our opinions.
Despite being a huge fan of Twitter, many tech analysts are worried the Trump administration may dismantle net neutrality. Both Trump and his new FCC head are bullish on the issue, and it may change the Internet as we know it.
Fundamentals of Net Neutrality
The principle behind net neutrality is that all content and applications are treated equally, regardless of source. If you host a blog, it will load as fast as the same content posted on Huffington Post (the largest, most trafficked block online).
If it were removed, companies like Hulu, Amazon, and Facebook can pay for prioritized bandwidth and speed. If you were to try to compete with these services, the financial barrier would be impossible for any small business or entrepreneur to overcome. Your streaming service, ecommerce site, or social media network would be essentially blocked out from all but the most patient of users.
This concept has always been at the foundation of the consumer Internet, and it’s what spawned those tech giants mentioned above in the first place. Innovation doesn’t come from the giant corporations – it comes from startups that disrupt the way things are currently done, like Uber and Lyft did to public transportation.
Without net neutrality, your Internet Service Provider can slow video from competing services, restrict access nondesirable content/creators, and more. It won’t be long before corporations fully control all Internet content. Virality will no longer be an option for the average person, and Silicon Valley will work more like Hollywood with country club exclusivity trumping public access.
Upcoming Battles for Net Neutrality
Net neutrality is a blanket defense against monopolies and discrimination, which were codified in section 616 of the Cable Act in 1992. The Trump administration and changes in congress are pointing toward an anti-net neutrality stance from DC moving forward.
Rep Marsha Blackburn, a harsh opponent of the FCC’s current stance on net neutrality, now heads the Congressional subcommittee on cable, phone, and Internet issues. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stepped down not long after November’s election. Speculation around The Hill is his replacement won’t be very friendly to net neutrality.
Big telecom has long sought to remove this barrier to regain control in negotiations with content creators. Although the entire Internet can be negatively impacted by the removal of net neutrality, video (the primary source of Internet traffic these days) is the biggest hot button issue.
Trump’s stance is the FCC should regulate the wireless spectrum auction and stay out of net neutrality issues, and it’ll take a lot of lobbying from powerful content creators and tech companies to act fast enough to stop them. Trump moves fast, and his Twitter account shows how swiftly he can act on issues.
Net neutrality will be at risk every second of the next four to eight years, so we all need to dig in our heels and prepare for a nasty war ahead for our fundamental freedoms of speech.
Protecting Net Neutrality
Several organizations already exist to protect the front lines of net neutrality, so you don’t have to worry about doing too much to help out. Savetheinternet.com has all the latest information you need to know about net neutrality, and keeps everyone informed on what actions can be taken next to be most effective.
The issue is well-known to the White House, and changing from Obama to Trump won’t change that fact. If net neutrality is threatened, we’re able to petition it and make our voices heard in large numbers.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is always at the forefront of digital issues, and you can bet they’ll be watching how the new administration and FCC head handles the issue. Politicians routinely slip legislation under the radar, but that won’t happen this time.
If net neutrality is threatened, you’ll be reminded every time you visit Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, and the rest of the tech giants that support it. You’ll be reminded to take action. Until then – stay informed, and we can ensure the Internet always remains free and neutral.
Otherwise, we’ll lose the one thing that makes the Internet a unique technology in human history. We all have a chance to write history, not just the rich and powerful.