From the current plans for the FCC to roll back Net Neutrality, initially it may seem like a fully ‘American’ problem. But for us here in the UK, or other parts of the world, do we need to worry about Net Neutrality?
Well the answer is simply – Yes.
The internet connects us all around the globe. In most countries it is without boundaries, allowing us to write, view and create whatever we want. It is open and accessible to everybody. Net Neutrality (a regulation passed in 2015) enforces that “internet service providers cannot block or slow your access to any (legal) online content”. This creates a fair ruleset that allows businesses to essentially compete – which is good for the consumer.
What the FCC proposes now (Nov 21st 2017) is that they will roll back these rules, allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to couple with services (e.g. streaming services) to fast track their information. This could also mean other services being ‘non’ fast tracked, or even lead to ISPs decreasing the speeds of their competitors’ services. For example, if you were with AT&T, who were paid by Netflix to fast track their data but were not paid by Amazon Prime, you’ll have great access to all of your shows on Netflix, but Amazon doesn’t buffer very well and sometimes cuts out. This is all speculative, but this is a future that can be seen if we allow companies and ISPs to chase profits rather than benefit their consumers.
So how does this affect the rest of the world? You’re able to go where you want on the internet, do what you please and to some degree have a certain level of anonymity without every site trying to track your every movement.
If Net Neutrality is rolled back, this sets up a framework for data and information to be controlled. In turn this sets up the framework for other countries to use the FCCs potential monetary benefit as a leading example. When information is controlled, you control what people see, and when you do that, you control what people think. Sounds dystopian huh? Outlandish? It might be, but without Net Neutrality we open up the floodgates for big business to control something that has been free since its inception.
The bottom line is, the internet should be free and accessible to everybody. We’re not saying you shouldn’t pay for the ISPs to maintain your connections and the infrastructure. But there shouldn’t be restrictions to what you can access based on how much money you have. We can already see the expanding wealth gap worldwide, and Net Neutrality is a semblance that attempts to, in some form, stop this from getting worse. The internet provides a lot of entertainment, information and opportunities to people world wide, let’s keep it that way.
Illustrations by us here at Yen Studio!