R.I.P. Net Neutrality

The internet is the greatest invention in the history of mankind. Information has never flowed more freely in the 5,000 plus years of recorded history. The advent of the internet has allowed more ideas to be shared than previously thought possible. Art, science, literature, cinema, and any number of creative works are shared with ease. Billions of dollars are made and lost. People conduct important work and, at the same time, preform mundane tasks like caring for a virtual garden. We connect with old friends and long lost relatives. Grandmothers view pictures and videos of their grandchildren instantly from thousands of miles away. That may all be changing very soon.

Imagine an internet where the information we see is controlled by the same people who deliver it to your home. Do you want to watch a video on YouTube? Too bad! AT&T might demand an access fee from Google. Maybe Google doesn’t want to pay the fee. Maybe you want to go to Fox News’ site. Well, guess what, Comcast owns NBC. MSNBC could be the only news site you get to access. Why should they allow you to look at their competitor’s site? Why would Fox or CNN pay an exorbitant toll to get through? Do you think they want to prop up their competitors? Who do you think will actually pay these fees? The companies? Yeah right. It’s going to get passed on to the consumers.

I know what you might be thinking. That’s all impossible. That could never be allowed! Well, think again. The Appeals Court for Washington D.C. has struck down the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Of course the service providers are thrilled about this. While they say they won’t do it, the fact remains that this now allows them to charge extra for access to certain areas of the internet. If there is one thing I know about corporations, it is that they will never pass up a chance to make more money off their customers.

Of course, congress could pass a bill enforcing net neutrality. They could pass legislation giving the FCC control over internet communications again. I for one would like to see something like that happen. Part of me has a doom and gloom feeling about it. Can I trust our senators to do what is right? I hope so. I am asking my elected officials to do the right thing. Hopefully, you will too.

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