Courtesy of Politico
Senior Content Manager
The Internet (or 'electronic cat database' as John Oliver has referred to it) has been abuzz the last couple years thanks to two seemingly simple words, 'Net Neutrality.' The words appear pretty self-explanatory but can you really tell me what it is? Let me break it down for you.
'Net neutrality' means that no information sent over a network (Internet) will take priority over any other piece of information being put out there. For example, that video of dogs being dumbfounded by magicians making their treats disappear will be delivered to you at the same speed as the research you're doing for your final term paper of the year that the aforementioned dog video is distracting you from. An equal playing field for all those involved.
This system seems ideal for everyone so why try and mess with it? This is the hot button issue of the week that John Oliver decided to tackle on Last Week Tonight
this past Sunday. As Oliver explains the very basis of how we use the Internet, and the whole concept of net neutrality is at risk thanks to a proposal being set before the U.S. Government. Yes the whole thing may seem super boring but it is kind of a big deal.
As John explains, "Net Neutrality is kind of hugely important. It essentially means that all data has to be treated equally no matter who creates it. It's why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field and why start-ups can supplant established brands. It's how Facebook supplanted MySpace, MySpace which supplanted Friendster, which supplanted actually having any friends... The point is the Internet in its current form is not broken and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that."
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is currently in the process of endorsing new rules that could create a two-tier internet delivery system where companies could essentially pay to have their information delivered to users over the Internet faster than their competitors. The power would shift to the Internet service providers to charge these tech companies to have their information delivered faster, giving them the ability to trample all over their small-time competition who obviously can't afford to pay companies like Comcast or Verizon to send out their data in the newly created Internet 'fast lane.' In the beginning do you really think that Mark Zuckerberg could have afforded to pay for Facebook to be delivered to his classmates any faster than the MySpace they had already been using so flawlessly? No, he was just a guy in his college dorm room messing around.
If the FCC allows 'two speed' Internet delivery to become the norm, this will give ISPs far to much power to squeeze money out of people. As Oliver explains in the video, when Netflix was negotiating with Comcast over their delivery to Comcast customers, their stream speeds plummeted to record lows before recovering rapidly after Netflix agreed to Comcast's demands. As John Oliver put it, "...it has all the ingredients of a Mob shakedown." Hence why those lobbying
net neutrality range from the start up to the big time corporations such as Netflix and Amazon.
So how is the dissolution of net neutrality even being ALLOWED to get this far? Well we have the close ties between the telecommunications companies and the government to thank for that. Verizon has even gone as far as to sue the FCC
saying that they should not have the authority to regulate the openness of the Internet and that they are quelling innovation by saying that everyone must remain on an level playing field. The FCC has stated that net neutrality strives to, "...preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission.” While Verizon argued that it violated its First Amendment rights to Free Speech.
At the end of the video John Oliver makes a plea to the 'Internet Commenters' out there as well as anyone with anything to say about net neutrality and the potential, further monopolization of internet service delivery. EVERYONE is invited to head over to fcc.gov/comments
and submit your thoughts on the whole situation for the next 120 days. But be careful, Oliver's audience already crashed the FCC website once this week!
So what do you think? Should net neutrality remain the standard of the Internet? Or should we trade it in for a 'two-lane' Internet speed service?
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