They’re killing the internet. They’re killing it just like how they killed cable television and they should pay for their crimes in blood.
“They” being massive corporations in the United States who make money off charging people for media. These companies, like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast rely on Americans paying them for access to television and private Wi-Fi connections, but it turns out that bleeding the average citizen hundreds (potentially thousands) of dollars per year on a basic human right was not enough, because they’re back at it again – and this time they have the US government on their side. More specifically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ,which regulates how communication companies can do their business.
The FCC used to be made up of the guys who proposed and ultimately enforced net neutrality in the States back in 2015, effectively banning Internet service providers (ISPs) from charging people to access certain websites, and instead forcing ISPs to allow anybody to access any website or online service at any time at the same speed for the same price. These regulations are popularly known as net neutrality, and they’re the main thing keeping the internet free, open, and ground zero for modern innovation. The world wide web was basically born in the US – most major online platforms were created by Americans – so any action around regulation of the internet sets a global precedent. While the FCC can only regulate how much ISPs can screw over consumers in their own country, many countries look to the US for guidance on how to deal with the web. Net neutrality is one of those American inventions that spread around the world and actually contributed to the international state of freedom, and the US should be proud of that.
However, the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, seriously hates net neutrality and anything it stands for. He probably has a piece of paper with “NET NEUTRALITY” written on it on a dartboard in his garage. He has probably burned an effigy of Lady Liberty holding a laptop in his backyard. I would not be surprised if he had a tattoo that had “net neutrality” in a circle with a line through it. He hates it so much, he recently released a proposal to repeal net neutrality and allow ISPs to charge people to access certain websites and potentially completely block others. Pai worked as a lawyer for Verizon, one of the companies that stands to win if they repeal net neutrality regulations, before he was appointed chairman of the FCC, a fact that should be considered nothing short of a conflict of interest. In July 2017, Verizon was caught slowing down user access to Netflix and YouTube, a situation they blamed on “routine network testing”; I blame it on corporate greed. Pai and the FCC are not looking out for American citizens at all, and it’s evident they don’t care about the rest of the world either. If Pai gets his way and repeals net neutrality, why should other countries look the other way if ISPs come calling, their pockets filled with money for government representatives who vote against net neutrality laws?
If Pai gets his way, the deregulation of ISPs could effectively block any more internet-based innovation. If small businesses and start-up companies who rely on the internet to gain business and users are not only fighting against bigger-and-richer enterprises but also their own service provider, it’s highly likely that any new initiatives coming out of the States (or any country that follows in the US’ footsteps) won’t gain traction and ultimately fail. The great democratizing force about the internet is that just about everyone is on equal ground when it comes to getting attention, regardless of their Wi-Fi service. With this, any site that doesn’t give ridiculous amount of money to the major cable providers will become obsolete within five years, stalling the exponential growth that the internet has bred for over twenty years.
The removal of net neutrality is a direct attack on freedom of press and sharing of information, and a potential next step to regulating the media as a whole. It would be the first time that citizens of a country were blocked from accessing information from massive corporations instead of a tyrannical government, and it is vital that net neutrality continues to prosper. Portugal already repealed net neutrality, and now Portuguese citizens must buy internet services like channels on cable television. Cable failed because people did not want to pay a ton of money for something they hardly use or could get for free online, and it appears that ISPs and the FCC want to do the same thing to the internet. It is vital that we stop them: spread the word online and remind our Canadian government representatives how important net neutrality is. You can visit battleforthenet.com for more information, and remember: despite Trudeau’s support for net neutrality, if they come for Canada, fight like hell and protect our precious, free internet.
Image courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union.