Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Save Net Neutrality

As long time readers know, I try to avoid politics on this blog. Quite simply, A Shroud of Thoughts is dedicated to nostalgia and pop culture, and I prefer for my posts to only address things related to those subjects. Unfortunately, there is one particular issue that could not only affect this blog, but hundreds of other blogs, small websites, not to mention every single American who uses the internet. Because of this, I feel that I must speak up.

Quite simply the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC)) chairman Ajit Pai is heading a move to do away entirely with the Net Neutrality rules that have governed the Internet from its earliest days. For those of you who are wondering what Net Neutrality is, it is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should allow access to all content and applications without favouring or blocking certain products or services. Opponents of Net Neutrality want to do away with it so ISPs could create "fast lanes" for those companies that can afford them. Those of us who could not afford to pay would then be stuck in the "slow lane".

To say this would be catastrophic would be an understatement. If ISPs were allowed to create "fast lanes", it would essentially only benefit large, powerful, established corporations. A tech company that is just starting out probably would not be able to afford to pay to be in a "fast lane", and as a result would probably wither on the vine. In other words, had Net Neutrality not existed in the Nineties, such giants as EBay, Amazon, Google, and many others would have never come into existence or, if they had, they would have closed up shop very quickly. Quite simply, Net Neutrality is good for the economy.  Of course, an end to Net Neutrality would not just impact tech startups. It would also affect non-profit organisations such as libraries, museums, and churches, schools, hospitals, and even small local governments. Want to go online and check to see if your children have school the next day or if they're out for snow? Without net neutrality you might not be able to. Your school might no longer be able to afford to pay to be in a "fast lane"!

Net Neutrality becomes even more important when one considers that in most of the United States consumers have very little choice in ISPs. I feel very lucky in that I have a choice of two different internet service providers. Many people only have access to one. If one's ISP then creates "fast lanes" and he or she suddenly finds himself or herself left in the dust, he or she will have little choice but to put up with it or move to a an area where the choices in ISPs are better. Given the fact that only a few companies control broadband in this country, they probably wouldn't have much luck if they did move.

To give you an idea of how important Net Neutrality is, such Internet giants as Google, Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, and others are participating in today's Day of Action to protect Net Neutrality. It is estimated that 80,000 websites are taking part in today's protest. No less than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web himself, has spoken out against the move to do away with Net Neutrality rules. In a tweet today, he said, "#NetNeutrality allowed me to invent the web without having to ask for permission. Let's keep the internet open!" That's right, without Net Neutrality we would not even have the World Wide Web!

If you are an American who enjoys surfing the web and enjoys seeing what you want to see on the internet, please write, email, or call your Congressman and your Senators, and, most of all, contact the FCC.  Here  Fight For the Future's "Battle for the Internet" site, where you can learn more and take action. Net Neutrality is much too valuable to lose.

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