The Internet Strikes Back: What Net Neutrality Means to Your Blog

7 years ago

The Internet Strikes Back I'm taking a break from your regularly scheduled discussion of all things Man-Titty and Romance to participate in The Internet Strikes Back, which focuses on Net Neutrality.

For those of you not in the U.S., or in the U.S. and not sure what the hell I'm talking about, Net Neutrality is about allowing Internet users the same speed and level of connection across devices, hardware, and method of connection. If Net Neutrality were not in effect, Verizon, for example, my Internet service provider, could give me faster connective speeds to its sponsored sites and block access to sites it doesn't want me to see. Moreover, it could block my access to competitors or sites it doesn't like me to use.

In other words, without Net Neutrality, my complaints about AT&T wireless coverage will look like a love song compared to complaints about access limitations imposed by ISPs. You could, if someone decided my site was not OK for the general populace, be blocked by your ISP from reaching my site or have the connection be so slow you give up, though that's a bit of a reach. I'd be surprised if an ISP noticed romance novels.

Congress is holding a hearing on the current FCC rules about Net Neutrality that provide some measures of protection against ISP access interference. The problem is that if the current FCC (that's Federal Communications Commission) rules are overturned, there is ample room for these types of limitations and further shenanigans with private deals between an ISP and a content provider. If the current FCC rules are removed, there's little to prevent a company with tons and tons of cash on hand (let's say ... MacroHard) to strike a deal with an ISP (such as ... Horizon-tal) to slow access to a site like Google and instead encourage with exclusive whippy-fast speeds access to a different search engine (let's call it ... Wing).

Now this is an entirely hypothetical scenario -- but in my experience, cash + power + telecom = my connectivity tends to suck (AT&T are your ears burning? How about you, Apple?).

I'm of the opinion that anything that removes my choice and my access to information is bad, particularly when the determination of that choice is placed in the hands of a telecommunications company, and not the individual user. It's not about the information itself -- the information would still be there. It's about the access to that information -- and someone else determining whether you should have it.

On February 16, the US Congress held a hearing on Net Neutrality with a vote to decide whether the current FCC rules should be overturned. Public Knowledge is coordinating a day of action on February 17 to alert representatives how their constituents feel about Net Neutrality. You can sign up for a text message alert on the 17th that will remind you to call your representative, and you can learn more at the Public Knowledge site.

I'm going to call my representative (Can someone tell me why Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.'s website does NOT have a menu item called "Bill's Bills?" I mean, how perfect would THAT be?) today. If this is something you feel strongly about, I hope you'll join in and speak up.

Sarah blogs at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

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