By Dane Laborn
What is Net Neutrality? Everywhere I go online, websites are railing against regulations being passed by the FCC and contested in Washington, but how would it affect someone on the day-to-day?
Basically, net neutrality is the current state of affairs, for most at least. Websites work the same across the board, and if you have high-speed internet, streaming a video on Netflix and Youtube is just as easy as streaming a video on randomwebsite.noidea.org, with little-to-no difference between either. The regulations would allow websites to pay internet providers for priority speed, allowing billion-dollar companies such as Netflix, who makes up 30 percent of online streaming at any given time, or YouTube, the ability to stream their videos and load their content fast, while smaller websites would be doomed to lag at speeds approaching dial-up.
Lest you think that these major companies are in favor of all this, woe be unto you, good sir or madame, because this is the internet, and if there was ever a good example of the Wild West, or the wilds of the jungle, as applied to the current world, the internet is it. Netflix is already passive-aggressively using humor to rail on Verizon for their data caps and priority speeds, causing verizon to respond with a kind worded “stfu” to Netflix. Ah, the internet. Where corporations anthropomorphize themselves and pick fights on social networking websites.
So it’s really the cable companies that would benefit from this, Time Warner and Comcast seem to be the most vocal proponents of striking down net neutrality, but make no mistake that our own provider, Cox, would also benefit from this. What’s interesting is that the internet’s largest companies, places like Netflix, Google, and even Facebook are universally opposed. Without net neutrality, they wouldn’t be what they are. It’s the equality of the internet that allowed them to build their websites from small operations to globe-spanning empires, and without it, the internet wouldn’t be able to evolve and grow as it currently does, new websites wouldn’t stand a chance. The cable companies would have you believe that all they are offering is a fast-lane for most, and a hyper-speed lane for others. The internet-at-large believes that in order to get our current speeds, we would have to pay the cable companies even more than we already do.
Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable companies, was appointed as the chairman of the FCC by Obama, and personally pushed for the end to Net Neutrality. His bill would turn the wonderful hellscape of anarchy and creativity that is the current internet into a corporate run example of fiscal Darwinism. WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN! The FCC has opened itself up to public comment, which as I am writing this article is pushing toward the 47,000 mark. The highest number under that is 2,093. Was it unwise for the FCC to open themselves up to the denizens of the internet in such a way? Probably. But our voices can and will be heard, I urge you to put down the paper, get online and go to www.fcc.gov/comments. Take the time to fill out the information, it is possible to keep yourself anonymous but there is no true need for it. Type a rant you would usually reserve for reddit or 4chan, let them know this is not okay.
When reached for comment, our Senators had nothing real to say on the issue or how they are going to stop it. So write to them, call them as well. For Mark Pryor, go to http://www.pryor.senate.gov/contact/form, phone numbers are at the bottom. For John Boozman, http://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me. Let them know that Arkansans, like the rest of the free world, are totally opposed to the end of net neutrality, and that it’s up to them to stop it.
On a sidenote, if you still feel confused on the issue, John Oliver, former correspondent for The Daily Show, recently reported on his new show “Last Week Tonight” on Net Neutrality, and put it into terms anyone can understand. Here’s the link: www.youtube.com/embed/fpbOEoRrHyU