The internet literally consisted of 45 computers in 1973. At the risk of sounding like your mom, it’s important to remember how massively things have changed. Today, the internet is a bottomless ocean of data, complete with Mariana-trench-scale depths (think Russian dark web) and bustling coral reefs (think Etsy).
Ever Heard of Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is probably yet another thing that often ends up on the ever-expanding list of buzzwords your glasses-wearing, Linux-using, cryptocurrency-rich IT friend sprinkles into chats over coffee. But I promise—it’s a much simpler issue than they insinuate. So, you want to use the internet, right? The whole internet. So you call some internet company, let the wifi man into your apartment, and start paying for access. Generally, that means a monthly fee—something pretty nominal, considering it allows you to do whatever your heart desires online. This process—a simple transaction that hooks you up to the whole internet—is basically net neutrality. Net neutrality is a law that makes the internet a utility, like water or electricity: you pay for it, you get it delivered to your house. You don’t have to pay for an Extra-Premium Plus Plan Package to use your water for cooking rather than bathing. Which brings us to the conflict:
Net Neutrality in Jeopardy
Net neutrality is in danger of being repealed where it was born: the U.S.A. Without net neutrality, internet service providers like Verizon, Vodafone, or T-mobile would have the ability to charge users per app or website. They’d be able to entirely block or slow down sites, too. That could mean extremely unfair competition for competing internet providers. Net Neutrality in Jeopardy
Why This is Especially Terrible
The technological and industrial disruption of recent years is due to the ability for small startups to compete at eye-level with giants of the industry. Without net neutrality, apps like Uber, Airbnb, or Netflix would maybe not have been born: there would not have been a fair competition. These small companies could’ve been suppressed in any number of ways— like by artificially slowing down their speeds if they didn’t pay the full-speed internet premiums. Take a look at how AT&T blocked Skype in 2007, for example. This kind of pay-to-play economy means it isn’t just the consumer who loses; it’s startups and companies as well.
The internet is education. It’s entertainment. It’s knowledge. And access to it should always be a basic human right. We shouldn’t need to purchase what we already have access to piece-by-piece through packages (like in the old days of cable television, where you were forced to buy entire bundles of channels, which you only used a fraction of!) In short, abandoning net neutrality in the U.S. would be precedent-setting worldwide disaster: international telecommunications providers globally would all begin to unfairly slow down competition. So, what should you do? You should stand up for your access rights.
No oppressor should be able to stop you from spending a Sunday looking at bizarre mannequin photos