There is movement afoot by the current Administration to weaken rules around net neutrality. And the large web companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are lobbying the government to not let that happen. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well… if you read between the “government speak” lines, it translates into the possibility of you paying more to access the internet. Let me take a step back and explain what net neutrality is. In general, the regulations stipulate that all data should be treated equal. Meaning, if you are streaming a movie on Netflix, that data is the “same” as the data used to download a song from iTunes.
That definition in itself might be a little vague, so let me put it in these terms. If there are no rules around net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (like Verizon and Comcast) could charge you more to stream that movie, than it does to download a song. Net neutrality puts regulations in place so companies can’t do that. As an example – right now you might pay $50 a month and you get unlimited bandwidth at a specific speed. Without net neutrality, you might pay $50 a month to watch Netflix, and $10 a month to download music. Now, this is extremely simplistic and I’m not sure what the rules would look like, but you can see why this might be an issue. Right?
Further, you could see stipulations being placed in other areas. If we look at this from the principle that all things are equal, you can use any platform or any device to access the internet. With changes to net neutrality, you might be paying more for a specific platform. Which doesn’t seem equitable. Would ISP’s make incorrect assumptions? Like, if you can afford an iPhone, or a Macbook then you’re suddenly going to get charged more for the same service? It sounds a bit fishy to me.
And that’s why Silicon Valley is lobbying to ensure that those parameters stay in place. While not a given, it would seem that Donald Trump’s Administration is in the process of making some changes to the net neutrality rules. Those in Silicon Valley are saying that no one wants these rules to change. Let’s keep everything as is. And honestly, why rock the boat Mr. President? The only people that it’s going to benefit are the ISP’s themselves. Allowing them to dictate the rules to the consumer.
What also is interesting is that under these new rules, an ISP would only be required to sign a piece of paper saying that they wouldn’t doing anything nefarious. I really like that word, and I love to use it in these instances. For example, they wouldn’t be allowed to slow down your internet connection. Or that they wouldn’t be allowed to block pages from their competitors. Can you imagine? You’re a Comcast customer, and you want to switch to Verizon, but you can’t get onto their website to even look? I’m kind of saying this in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but it’s a possibility.
What gets me fired up about stuff like this is that there doesn’t seem to be a benefit to anyone other than these big ISP’s. What will it do to the smaller ISP’s? Or will it have any impact at all. I’m glad to see that large companies like Google and Twitter are using their resources and influence to take on this battle, as it doesn’t seem like one that the common man can win. And many people probably don’t understand the full implications of what this means. Or what net neutrality means. Unfortunately the Administration is banking on that ignorance to be able to push forward bills that harm the people, and only serve to benefit the big corporations. Or ISP’s in this case.