President Obama has sided with the pro-net neutrality party, protecting the basic value on which the internet is built: equality.
The Federal Communications Commission has been toying with the idea of implementing an act which will do away with the certainty of net neutrality. Now, net neutrality ensures every user of the worldwide web that they and their data will be treated equally, without discrimination or preferential treatment.
Changing this system will influence everyone’s use of the Internet, as it will influence what websites users wish to visit. Because of this the FCC is running into heavy resistance, organized under the flag of the pro-net neutrality organization Fight for the Future (FftF), and now even the president of the United States has spoken out against it.
Both the pro-neutrality organization as Obama suggest to protect the Internet by reclassifying it under part of the Telecommunications act, which will make the Internet an essential part of social life. But the final decision has to be made by the FCC.
“The FCC is deeply corrupted by cable companies,” says Evan Greer, spokesperson for FftF. Greer’s organization has become the flag under which companies such as Netflix and Twitter have united with the common Internet user to form an alliance against the cable companies.
Monopolies will be created when the rich can prevent other companies from competing, by buying into the new tier system, which allows companies to pay for faster connections. Now, net neutrality means that all data needs to be treated equally, but a tier system will disrupt this.
The collective wants to prevent paid prioritization, as “slowing down content is censorship,” according to Greer.
Obama himself appointed Tom Wheeler, former top-lobbyist for cable-companies, to become the head of the FCC. This supports Greer’s notion of the government being corrupted by cable company money, were it not for Obama’s latest speech on the topic in which he states that net neutrality is what “I’ll be fighting for, too.”
“Comcast has no desire to break the Internet,” stated Comcast vice-president David L. Cohen in a public announcement. According to him the cable companies do not desire to discriminate online services, but rather want to keep the Internet free for innovation. These innovations however also include paid prioritization, but Comcast states that this will not harm anyone.
“They’ll slow down a user or company’s connection if they don’t pay up,” explains John Bain, from Youtube channel TotalBiscuit, in a video he published on the topic, contradicting Comcast’s claims that no-one would be harmed by the change.
This has happened before.
While Netflix and Comcast were reconsidering their contract, Comcast slowed down Netflix, only to undo the slowdown after Netflix accepted Comcast’s demands, as can be seen in Netflix’ published speed graphs.
The tier system could be harmful for big companies such as Netflix, but those companies might be able to pay for the fast-lane Internet.
Small businesses that have occurred with the popularity of Youtube and online game-streaming site Twitch, are in a predicament. These people make a living off providing Internet entertainment, and could be harmed by being forced into the slow lane.
Neutrality is an important thing for these entertainers, says streamer Alex Larrabee, who makes a living of the Internet himself. When asked if he fears the possible effects from the gutting of net neutrality he looks away and mumbles that it is a “depressing” thought.
To stop this threat of Internet inequality, comedian John Oliver appealed to “internet trolls” in his tv-show Last Week Tonight to use their powers on the FCC comment section in a last attempt to push the importance of net neutrality. This has resulted into over four million comments by users, supported by a voice that counts as heavily as their four million combined: their president.
By Jeroen de Vries
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