23 hours ago
Monday, November 27, 2017
News and Commentary: Net Neutrality at Risk
The issue of "Net Neutrality," the idea that Internet Service Providers treat all data the same and not intentionally restrict it for the purpose of making money, came into the news recently when Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission released a plan that calls for the dismantling of laws protecting it. Pai called current laws "heavy-handed Internet regulations." But the response has been a number of protests from ordinary Americans to columnists and more. Among them is Mark Fischback, better known as "Markiplier." Usually, he does gaming review videos. But he did one asking people to move to protect Net Neutrality.
It's difficult to see how the end of Net Neutrality would help anyone but the big telecom industries, who would then be able to choke people's Internet access in order to make more money to themselves. They could deliberately slow access to all but designated "fast lanes" that they would charge more for. They could deny access to certain platforms, such as Skype and Discord, in order to steer people to using their own. They could slow down, or even deny access to certain games and websites.
Looking back, there is evidence they would do just that. In 2011, MetroPCS moved to charge different rates for Internet access. In 2012, AT&T moved to block Apple's application Facetime from it's users who didn't pay for an expensive plan. In 2013, Verizon went to court to repeal Net Neutrality regulations at the time, saying they had the right to treat traffic unevenly.
This is more than just slowing down movie and video downloads and making some online first person shooters unplayable to certain users. The free flow of data that Internet Neutrality provides allows for small online businesses and entrepreneurs to start up easier while a "throttled" Internet could choke off these new companies before they start.
What to do? One can write their Congressman and/or Senator. There are also petitions one can sign, sign as the one at petitions.whitehouse.gov/, and change.org.
Hopefully, the proposed dismantling will itself be dismantled.
Sources: Popular Mechanics, Wikipedia, New York Times, The Verge, Gigaom, 9to5Mac, change.org, whitehouse.gov