For those of us unfamiliar with the concept of “net neutrality,” I will default to the description used by our previous article from February concerning the matter:
“Currently, all websites are viewed as the same by your ISP; it’s neutral. A 100mb movie from Netflix should take just as long to download as a 100mb file from DropBox. The difference in download speed has to do with the varying infrastructures of Netflix and DropBox because the net views each website neutrally. But, this past Monday, Verizon challenged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and they won.”
Now, the FCC is trying to make it so websites may have to pay a premium for faster download speed. If you don’t pay the premium, you’ll be in the slow lane. The internet was built on the concept of “openness” and the ability for any quality content to come to the forefront of the American consciousness simply by getting the right attention.
Now, quality content could be seriously choked by the creator’s inability to pay high fees that allow people to see it at a reasonable speed. Let’s keep in mind how low the attention span of the American public is. How recently have you yelled at a computer for taking more than 10 seconds to load a website? I did it this morning. We’ve become accustomed to getting any information we could possibly want within a minute of trying to find it. Thanks, Google.
It’s time to fucking give a damn. There is no room for apathy here.
Will you or your company be able to, or want to, pay a premium fee just so people can load your website quickly enough for the American patience limit? Let’s say Bandcamp doesn’t want to pony up the money for the premium service. One of two things will happen: Bandcamp will start charging you to be able to pay for that premium service, or Bandcamp could become a depressingly slow service that pauses in the middle of playing a song in order to buffer the content. That’s not good news for your band or anyone else’s.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is now trying to raise money to elevate the awareness for this problem. At time of writing, he’s about a third away from his goal of $20,000, with 8 days left to go. Ohanian is trying to raise money for a billboard in Washington, D.C., the heart of the beast, that demands net neutrality from the FCC. This is how you can get involved on a very basic level. Otherwise, please write your elected officials.
Ohanian is a big supporter of the open internet, and he pulled the same kind of trick in 2012 to fight SOPA. SOPA went down then, and now the possible death of net neutrality must go down. Don’t take this one lying down.
As someone who regularly writes about the crossroads of technology and culture, I’ve seen how a government’s hands on the throat of the internet can seriously disrupt open communication. Revolutions have been started all over the world with the freewheeling internet as their home base. When the government cuts the lifeline, the citizens can no longer organize.
Aside from that, we like the internet the way it is. I like being able to set up an account with a website service and put my ideas out there and I think you like it to. Just keep in mind, sometimes you have to fight for such pleasures. There is no free expression when you have to pay extra to stand on the soap box.