"Net neutrality." Many folks in the tech industry have heard the phrase and know it well. Most regular consumers might never have come across it, but it's incredibly important to all of us who value an internet unencumbered by the hands of the government.
American's who particularly value the First Amendment, take note!
What is net neutrality?
At its core, net neutrality is the principle and belief that internet service providers (ISPs) should give customers access to all content, applications, and information available online without favoring or blocking any organization or website in particular (here in Canada, one ISP, Telus, went so far as to block labor union blogs during an employee strike — so not neutral). Basically, net neutrality is free speech for the internet.
This isn't just relegated to content, however, and also includes internet speeds. ISPs have the ability to throttle speeds for certain protocols and actions online that may influence your browsing or make certain things more difficult. In a rather sneaky move, providers can tell what type of traffic you produce and throttle you if you're eating into your neighborhood's bandwidth.
Net neutrality seeks to give all customers exactly what they pay for, without having their bandwidth throttled because of their online activity. Net neutrality is all about giving you the internet you want and deserve.
Why should you care?
U.S. government policies that have established net neutrality in the country are in jeopardy. FCC chairman Ajit V. Pai is on his way to doing away with those policies, bringing about the government and your ISP's ability to show you the internet the way they see fit. That includes censorship; if you create a website for your business that harms the business interests of one of your ISP's potential partners, you could be silenced online. How is that fair?
Let's put this in terms we can all understand: Your favorite porn site is your go-to for happy time. Take YouPorn, for example. The name is dangerously close to YouTube for a reason (great marketing — duh!). Well, what if, down the line, Google becomes a full-fledged ISP and decides that 'T' is the only letter that should come after "You"? It could then block YouPorn to all of its customers. A literal spank bank completely inaccessible to an entire consumer base.
In more realistic terms, think about net neutrality on an advertising level. Certain TV stations show certain advertisements because advertisers pay to have their ads shown there. What if you went online and couldn't access Amazon because your ISP was in Best Buy's pocket? There, now that doesn't sound so hilarious and farfetched, does it?
You should care about net neutrality because net control is essentially an infringement upon your freedom. Your right to access any website you want and get the internet speeds that you're paying for, regardless of your online activity or bandwidth consumption, is just that — a right.
Say you have a DVD shelf (what's a DVD?!) that has two rows, one behind the other. Your wife decides one day to reorganize the thing and put all her favorite movies in the front row and all your favorites at the back, thus making them more of a pain in the ass to get to. So you pretty much watch what she wants every movie night because you either can't see the movies you want to watch or they're just too difficult to get to without much hassle.
So says your ISP throttles your speed when you're watching Netflix in order to push its own streaming service. Is that very neutral? Bro. That's so not neutral, bro.
What can you do about it?
The Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality is on July 12, 2017, and is an event put together by Fight for the Future, a non-profit organization that deals with digital rights.
Many big organizations are participating in the protest, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Pornhub, Twitter, and tons more (because it matters!). Organizers of the event and members of various organizations will attempt to contact members of Congress and the FCC in order to protest Ajit V. Pai's plans. A big thing to note is that Ajit V. Pai used to work and Verizon, and Verizon opposes net neutrality (rethinking your phone plan yet?).
You can sign up and join the protest at battleforthenet.com. If you do, you'll be joining hundreds of companies and organizations who want to keep the internet free for the entire U.S. to use and enjoy as every person sees fit.
If you feel strongly about your online freedom, get in touch with your member of Congress and even the FCC and make sure your voice is heard. You can even get out and take part in protests near you (peacefully, of course).
What do you think?
What's your take on net neutrality? Share your opinion in the comments or in the iMore forums, but be respectful and open-minded.