The Real Reasons Net Neutrality is Being Threatened

I was upset to have had to miss class last week, but I look forward to our blockchain discussion on Monday!

On the topic of online communities, let’s talk about net neutrality.

For those of you who don’t know, the FCC recently released a statement detailing their plans to rid of the laws that ensure equal and fair access to the internet for everyone. ISPs like Comcast and Verizon are forbidden from charging more for access to specific websites, censoring certain pages, and throttling your connection to many websites because of these laws.

The first red flag that should make the American people wonder if the FCC’s plan is actually to the benefit of the consumer is the fact that the plan was released the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Seemingly, the FCC was hoping no one was paying attention — they were wrong, and the internet has been in an uproar.

Before we delve into why net neutrality is being threatened, let’s talk about what exactly net neutrality is. The Merriam-Webster definition is:

The idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination

In 2013-14, Comcast greedily demanded a direct payment from Netflix for a “fast-lane” access for Comcast’s customers to Netflix. Since Netflix takes up so much bandwidth for movie streaming, Comcast felt justified in asking Netflix to pay up, whereas other companies remained unscathed. That led to this scary graph:

EDIT: The image I included isn’t appearing, I suggest you check out the graph HERE.

Comcast essentially held Netflix hostage until people could barely access Netflix, in Jan 2014 when speeds bottomed out, and Netflix caved and offered to pay Comcast. This interaction is the perfect example of an internet without net neutrality.

There are many key players in the destruction of the right to fair access to the web.

Politicians

You may wonder: how does a politician choose whether to support the censorship of the internet? It’s easy!

Ted Cruz has come out in vehement support of slashing net neutrality, which would allow Comcast and other ISPs to make a lot more money. He hilariously called net neutrality  “Obamacare for the internet.” I wonder if he’s pandering to a voter-base.

At first, I was shocked that anyone could support this policy. Then I poked around and saw that Comcast donated $36,148 to Cruz’s Senate campaign.

Take a look at this list of politicians Comcast has supported and see which of them support net neutrality!

Ajit Pai

Pai, the current head of the FCC, is spearheading the gutting of net neutrality. Read about him here. You may be interested to know he’s a former lawyer for Verizon!

ISPs

Verizon recently released this video regarding net neutrality. The Verge released this article fact-checking every statement made in the video. ISPs have essentially been asking that we remove the open internet laws and they’ll just…”voluntarily agree” not to take advantage of the lack of regulations until better ones can be agreed upon.

If you want to learn more, I really like John Oliver’s segment on NN, although there are better ways to learn more. Know that I’ve barely scratched the surface in my blog post here, and know that I have presented an argument that would be considered very partisan and/or biased in structure by some, although I have not presented any false information.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

2 Comments »

  1. Mike Smith

    November 25, 2017 @ 10:36 pm

    1

    Well done post, Jake. My suggestion when writing to your favorite politician would be to say that you look forward to the day that our ISPs and other technology companies decide to limit the conservative broadcasts, comments, and access to websites. If you’re writing to a liberal rather than conservative politician, you can substitute “liberal” for “conservative” in my suggested statement. I’m sure that our politicians would happily trust the ISPs and technology companies to not take any political stands.

  2. jakobgilbert

    November 29, 2017 @ 3:15 am

    2

    Absolutely agreed — I’ve already contacted local politicians in my hometown. The problem, as you know, really lies in the fact that there isn’t much that politicians in the legislative branch can do. To my understanding, the FCC will move ahead without this issue ever passing through Congress; we can only hope to sway one of the five appointed FCC commissioners (two have already come out in support of net neutrality). Otherwise, we can hope that the legislative branch gets involved in other ways — for now, the future is uncertain. Thank you for your comment.

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