Picture this. You are sick of the same boring TV channels on your cable or satellite, so you decide to go to the Internet, but now the Internet that comes into your house looks just like your cable TV, you can’t get Netflix because the quality is so degraded, Reddit is no longer available since it is considered inappropriate, and the news from across the world is gone because the country leader shut the service and the provider refuses to transmit. You now have no control over what comes in to your house or even what you pay for it.
You just lost Net Neutrality.
The Federal Communications Commission has, for many years, been the protector of consumers and the Last Stand of Defense to control and regulate telecommunications. The FCC protected a free and open Internet against the Big Players (AT&T, Verizon, and TimeWarner Cable to name a few) who want to play favorites and block Internet traffic and services because of their bottom line. And they got what they wanted last week.
The Big Players won last week in a D.C. District Court ruling that allows them to affect the success or failure of companies while you? You lost.
The Big Players have been working quietly behind the scenes with politicians to get their definition of 'telecommunications’ services changed to ‘information’ services. What does this one-word change mean? It means a whole lot. Because they are now under information services, they get out from underneath the regulatory authority of the FCC.
The change came from the Big Player’s lobbyist efforts that resulted in the bad decision (by people appointed in both 2002 and also during the current Administration) when they had the chance to reclassify cable modem services as information services instead of telecommunications services. Since the FCC has been the watchdog to prevent monopolies and protect the consumer for many years, they are now completely useless against the Big Players and their ability to discriminate against other sites and other companies they view as competition.
But it gets even better. They will block traffic and web services and other oppressive countries will be able to shut down the outflow of news or AT&T just might decide Americans don’t need to know about a threat taking place across the world since it’s all just information now and it is their information to control. They will deny or degrade service based on who are not their customers.
You will likely not even know. Your costs will go up (you may say, no big deal). Your will have limited choices. You will notice a few subtle and irritating interruptions in service or your Netflix movie keeps freezing. You may not realize that activists and refugees in China or North Korea or Syria are no longer able to get word to the outside world since the Internet has been completely shut down in that country, because frankly, the Big Players also have a hand in the media companies that report news. In the past, you were able to rely on predictable high-speed service and the freedom to post anything and go anywhere on the net with access to anything on the web.
You seriously now lose.
The only recourse to regain net neutrality and keep it free is for people to put pressure on elected officials and the FCC directly by writing letters and sending emails. Despite the Big Player’s claim that this is only about them ‘providing better service’ for their customers, it is always and only about money and profit for them.
To turn the loss into a win, then it must be about preserving Net Neutrality and defending a free and open Internet.
Did anyone see this story reported on their 6:00 news or anywhere else? Oh right, the Big Players can call the shots with media such as NBC, CBS, and CNN since they control their ‘information services’ now.
It’s a pretty big deal, so it’s important that people know.
For more information, also see: Net Neutrality