Net neutrality. It's a term that you may have heard and know that it's something that bloggers should be concerned about — but perhaps you don't fully understand what it entails or how it might affect you. The FCC opened up discussion for a new set of proposals on net neutrality, or the idea that Internet service providers should treat all content equally.
Image Credit: Marcello Gracioli via Flickr
The main issue with the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan is that it doesn't prevent Internet "fast lanes", in which ISPs can deliver some bandwidth-intensive content (such as videos) at a faster speed — and charge more for it. Or perhaps a service provider could give priority to content produced by a company with which it has business affiliations. Supporters of this idea say it's needed and it's no different than paying extra for better service in other industries. Information Week Editor Rob Preston writes:
"For example, the US Postal Service charges customers more to deliver packages overnight than it does for two- or three-day service. The airlines charge customers more for classes of service that usher them through check-in, security, and boarding faster. Internet and cellular providers already charge consumers more for faster data speeds. Are such premium-priced services "unfair" to customers who can't afford them or choose not to take advantage of them?"
But as bloggers, we are not just Internet consumers, but also content creators and independent businesses. How could the current proposal for fast lanes in net neutrality affect us? Luvvie Ajayi at Awesomely Techie writes:
"Bloggers, this affects us tremendously because our hosting fees could easily go up if we want to compete. Also keep in mind that since Google applies load time of your website to SEO (search engine optimization), if you accept the slow lane, your rankings might drop. Which means your traffic would drop and those ad dollars won’t look so sweet. IT MATTERS. Small business owners, this affects you too. You might have to throw more money at your websites for the same reason."
Furthermore, many bloggers write about very niche topics or even subjects which may be considered controversial. Or perhaps a blog or independent news site is the main source that keeps tabs on a certain demographic, as is the case for many communities of color. Groups such as Color of Change or the National Hispanic Media Coalition worry that minority voices could be censored by ISPs.More Links About Net Neutrality
What the FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling Means for Journalism at Poynter Institute
What Do You Want Your Representatives to Ask Chairman Wheeler About Net Neutrality? by Electronic Frontier Foundation
Follow the hashtag #AskWheeler on Twitter to keep up to date with Congressional hearings.
Are you concerned about the "fast lanes" and the open internet? Tell us in the comments.
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.
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