Net Neutrality means that all data is treated equally and internet service providers cannot give some data priority over other data. It means a free and open internet for all, where internet service providers remain neutral.
Who wants net neutrality? Anyone who uses the internet! Who does not want it? The cable companies and internet service providers along with their shareholders and lobbyists. Without net neutrality, internet providers can strike deals with content providers that give customers access to their data while slowing or blocking access to competitor data. Imagine a world where you can only stream Netflix if you were a Time Warner Cable customer or had to pay a fee for every YouTube video you streamed.
Net neutrality affects all of us and we should all be fighting for it! July 12 is Net Neutrality Day of Action. On that day, thousands of the websites and streaming services you love will let the world know that they support Net Neutrality. I highly recommend visiting battlefortheinternet.com to learn how you can make your opinion count.
Net Neutrality in a Nutshell
Back in the day, when huge utility companies were sprouting up, there wasn’t much competition, which also led to monopolies. The government allowed this to happen because building these infrastructures was extremely expensive and so the government permitted private companies to do the work with little or no competition. Since these companies were providing vital services, regulation was put into place to protect the consumers from price gouging and unfair practices.
Enter the cable companies and internet service providers in the 1980s getting the same government deal as the utility companies: The government-regulated utility companies provide the expensive infrastructure and the government will allow them to exist with little or no completion. The internet quickly became a vital service in our lives and all data was treated equally, meaning your data was treated the same as my data and my data was treated the same as Google’s data. If we all wanted our data out there, it was all equally accessible.
As the result of a Verizon lawsuit in 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to revise net neutrality regulations and give more power to the cable and internet companies to regulate themselves.
The Good News: Thanks in part to a viral video from HBO’s John Oliver pleading to protect net neutrality and the subsequent crashing of the FCC servers from responses, the American people began to take notice and speak out. On Feb. 26, 2015, the FCC voted to protect net neutrality. We won!
The Bad News: Right now, new FCC chairman and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, has a plan to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T immense control over what we see and do online. They will, in fact, have the power to slow down or block websites and charge apps and sites extra fees to reach an audience.
It is up to us, the voting public, to convince our senators to vote against Pai’s reconfirmation as FCC chair. For more information, videos and ways to help, I urge you to visit the online version of this article on my blog at webwizardsolutions.net/techtalk. This is important, folks, pass it on!
Have a tech question? Send your question to NYCWebwiz@icloud.com or tweet @WebWizSolutions and we’ll try to answer it here.
Rich Suweidan, a.k.a. Webwizard, is a webmaster for the city of New York. He is also the chief principal and webmaster of Webwizard Solutions LLC designing websites and web-based solutions for almost 20 years. Visit webwizardsolutions.net for all of your website needs.