by Harrison Larner
As I sat browsing Reddit last week, I came across a post that I was tempted to ignore. It said, “Imgur, OK Cupid, DuckDuckGo, Namecheap, Bittorrent, and a bunch of other big sites have joined the Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality on July 12 (Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Mozilla, and Reddit were already on board.)”
To me, Net Neutrality seemed to be a technical computer issue facing major corporations. I proceeded to browse the site, reading ridiculous trade proposals in Reddit’s NBA forums and looking through their Fantasy football forums for some sleepers for this upcoming year (I promise the free advertising for Reddit ends here).
However, I couldn’t avoid the nagging curiosity of knowing what Net Neutrality was really about. I began researching, and I’m really glad I didn’t ignore it.
So What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the concept that all data on the internet should be treated the same, regardless of user, content, or internet provider as well as the basic principle that prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon from charging us extra fees to access the content we want — or throttling, blocking, and censoring websites and apps.
While that definition is technically correct, it hardly helps those of us without expertise in the computer science/telecommunication field understand how it could affect us.
Without the protection of Net Neutrality, internet providers, such as Comcast, would be free to antagonize the users of the internet in multiple ways.
They could pick and choose which websites provide loading and downloading speeds in the “fast lanes,” while other websites lag behind. Large websites such as YouTube would be free to negotiate a huge contract to guarantee lightning quick video loading at 1080p quality, while small websites (like Wearedynasty.com) would load exceedingly slow and lag horribly.
Netflix could get REALLY SLOW and have HORRIBLE video quality. While this doomsday scenario seems unlikely, Comedian John Oliver pointed out the change in Netflix download speeds during their negotiations with Comcast.
As you can see, as soon as Netflix agreed to pay a steep price to Comcast, the Netflix download speeds shot right back up. If Comcast was willing to illegally manipulate internet speeds during negotiation, it remains to be unseen how egregiously they would manipulate Netflix speeds if Net Neutrality was disbanded.
Even if the removal of Net Neutrality ends as well as it possibly could (by large websites ponying up the enormous fees to give consumers faster internet speeds), a huge problem still exists. Because these websites have faster loading speeds, consumers will be attracted to them instead of smaller websites (again, like Wearedynasty.com).
This is an enormous issue. Because they will have a loyal following with little competition, they will be unmotivated to improve their product. For those who play video games, imagine all large websites to become as complacent as 2K sports in the NBA2K series or EA in the Madden series.
How to Help: A Simple Two Step Process
(Note: “Restoring Internet Freedom” refers to ending Net Neutrality, which will have the catastrophic results listed above).
Press the “+Express” button and leave a review to the FCC of why you think ending Net Neutrality will be a bad idea.
Participate in the “Internet wide day to save Net Neutrality” on July 12th. Participation can come in many forms, including sharing this or any other article on the importance of Net Neutrality or even just explaining the concept to somebody who might not be quite as computer literate.
The internet is a wonderful place. Let’s keep it that way.