Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Some Words on Net Neutrality

I've been told that this quote isn't authentic,
but I like it anyway.
There is another movement afoot to end "net neutrality." What this means is that internet service providers (ISPs) would be able to charge money not only to the person who is getting the internet access, but also to the people who are providing the content.

The argument for this seems, on the surface, perfectly reasonable. Amazon or Netflix want to stream videos, and so they should pay more money to do this. I believe that sometimes this argument may even be built in terms of a service to the customers: if Amazon and Netflix are paying the ISPs for their streaming service, then the ISPs can reduce the amounts charged to the individual customers a bit.

These arguments seem reasonable on the surface, but what they really amount to is a smokescreen to get the ISP more money out of the same transaction. Small, start-up internet companies, or individual content creators, would not have the money to afford decent access to their potential customers, clients,and audiences. It would end the free access that defines the internet, turning each ISP into a gateway that has to be bought into in order to access a base of customers. For a more detailed discussion of the logistics of this and how it can be damaging to our ability to access content, I suggest this wonderful post over at i09.

Debates over this sort of charge by the ISPs has come up in legislation before, but this time it's the FCC that is directly trying to implement policy of this type. Still, I went ahead and wrote to my Congresswoman and Senators on this issue, in case there was any action they could take on this issue. Here was the bulk of my sentiment:
I am an Indiana resident and I work remotely from home. The prospect of my ISP prioritizing certain forms of content over other forms of content has a direct impact upon my ability to complete my work effectively. In addition to working in the publishing industry and spending my day communicating and delivering files online, which requires effective, unfettered internet bandwidth, I also work as a freelance writer and am the Physics Expert for the About.com website. Rules that prioritize certain forms of content over others would place this work in jeopardy. The sites I write for would see sudden decreases in traffic, unless they are able to pay the ISPs ... in which case, presumably, they will have to lower their pay rates accordingly. Neither is an attractive proposition. 
I pay substantial amounts of money for my internet service, both at home and through my cellular plan, for high quality internet service. The idea that the government would allow these businesses to extort money from the other end of this transaction and limit my ability to access the content on the internet is unthinkable to me. 
If there is any action that can be taken to oppose this policy by the FCC, I urge you to take it.
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