by Daley Wilhelm
Here’s another desperate, alarmist article explaining how net neutrality is a deadly serious thing that you need to be paying attention to. Because it really is. Later this week, the anticipated repeal of net neutrality will have immediate and far-reaching repercussions. You should expect big changes in how your everyday use of the Internet will be effected.
This is just a taste of a future without net neutrality.
I feel like nobody is taking Net Neutrality seriously so let me explain how bad it is.
The government is trying to tax the internet. Voting takes place THIS WEEK and if passed it’ll be implemented as soon as JANUARY 2018. This is what using internet w/o #NetNeutrality looks like: pic.twitter.com/3OSp6Emcw4
— David Letterlad (@DavidLetternan) December 9, 2017
You know when a web page isn’t loading, but the ads are? When an ad plays perfectly fine, but then the video you actually clicked on is a buffering mess? That’s largely what the Internet will look like without net neutrality. As it stands now, Internet Service Providers like Comcast and Verizon have to treat all traffic equally—ads and the content that you really want are allocated the same speed.
This means that big sites like Amazon and obscure sites like bytebsu.com are equal under net neutrality. Stranger Things and Vine complications will be using the same amount of internet. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai seeks to change that.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) November 21, 2017
Specifically, Pai is for repealing net neutrality in order to give big Internet providers more room to make revenue off of internet users. Without net neutrality, Verizon would be free to slow the loading of sites that it considers to be competition and speed up connection to sites that possibly cut expensive deals with the ISP in order to make sure its content is accessible, all while charging users for access to specific sites in package deals similar to cable.
This is the internet without net neutrality:
And note that this isn’t one of the many user-generated images like the one David Letterman tweeted of what you could be expecting to pay to Comcast without net neutrality. This is from Portugal’s wireless carrier MEO, where without net neutrality, you have to pay a flat data rate. And then pay for the unlimited data you purchased to apply to messaging apps like Skype or FaceTime. And then pay for another package in order to get social media to have that data. Pay more for video streaming. Music streaming is an entirely different package. Need your email for work? That’s an additional charge.
This is on top of what you already pay for Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, or any other paid service, but now the apps that you’ve used for free like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat come with a price. Rather than today’s model of paying just one fee for everything to run at the same speed, you’re asked to split this payment or to pay additionally to have everything on the same level.
PROTECT NET NEUTRALITY!
Or soon there's gonna be memes about having to pay for memes but you aren't even gonna be able to afford to see them
— Queen (@saaarah_marie) December 10, 2017
Social media (but also Freedom of Speech)
Social media, especially platforms like Facebook, are arguably already clogged with ads and sponsored content alongside those outdated memes your aunt posts. Without net neutrality, it might become even harder to sort through the spam to find the things your friends and family are actually posting about.
Nowadays, if you can’t afford enough data, you won’t be able to open certain sites/platforms.
Net neutrality is about creating the same Internet experience for all regardless of how much money they have.
We NEED to push for this. We equally deserve to access same information.
— Stacy de Jesus (@stacydejesus) November 29, 2017
Social media provides a platform to anyone with an internet connection. It has essentially become the world’s soapbox, where movements can be organized, where people can ask for help and find it, and where one person’s voice can be broadcast globally.
Anyone can say anything on the Internet. What if that stops being true? Without net neutrality, blogs critical of Verizon, Comcast, or businesses in their pockets could be censored. Already there is speculation that champions of net neutrality have been silenced.
why would we willingly limit a major source of information and news to those who can't afford a price put on the internet? net neutrality allows freedom of knowledge and needs to stay that way
— Mackenna Hood (@mackennahood16) December 6, 2017
Imagine if a person has something important to say or express, but they couldn’t afford Twitter for the month. Barbara wanted to post about her GoFundMe for her hospital bills, but because of said hospital bills she couldn’t afford the social media package needed to promote her dire situation. You set up grandpa’s Facebook, but because he won’t pay for the extra package he can’t see all your graduation pictures since he lives half a world away.
Social media has become essential to communication. Should those who can’t afford it be denied a voice? We’re all broke college students here, but why should we be denied the ability to network and befriend and communicate and help each other?
People are failing to realize that losing Net Neutrality will impact how you get jobs, how you navigate the already trash education system, what media you’re exposed to, smaller/local business, and a lot more. It’s not just losing out on social media and memes.
— NostalgiaKid (@_NostalgiaKid_) December 7, 2017
Comcast owns NBC/Universal, which has long been rumored to be contemplating rolling out its own streaming service, and therefore would benefit from slowing Netflix to a crawl in order to make viewers turn to Comcast content.
— Jim Gresham (@Jim_Gresham) November 29, 2017
Good luck binging your favorite shows, too. ISPs would be free to limit how much content you stream. That’ll be another five-dollar fee to finish the next season of Orange is the New Black.
Work (and finding it)
There’s a reason why public libraries have computers with Internet available to the public. That American dream of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Fairly impossible when you can’t send in job applications, reply to emails, or search for jobs. The idea of “hitting the pavement” is a myth in the modern world. The information superhighway is where the job hunt is.
Net neutrality is the foundation of the open internet, which we use every single day. If overturned, you could lose the ability to apply for jobs, do research for school, and access affordable telemedicine.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 28, 2017
Public libraries might be able to provide that service, but what if that service is throttled in favor of certain employers? Amazon could pay for their job postings to be favored, while the competition’s postings could be throttled or even blocked entirely.
If you actually are able to land a job and then can afford access to your email, then you better hope you can afford any of the sites you might need for reference, or video streaming for training videos. Not to mention social media if you’re working for a small business. God forbid you freelance or are self-employed.
— liam nii-san (@phomarciam) November 28, 2017
Many businesses, especially those that are small and/or local, turn to social media for free promotion and advertisement that they might not be able to afford otherwise. With fined access to Facebook or Twitter, it becomes all the more difficult for small businesses to get ahead.
Bandwidth caps. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a game of League of Legends or finally getting to max level in World of Warcraft. If you use “too much Internet” then you could be reduced to an unplayable crawl at any moment.
What’s likely to happen is that there will be yet another package aimed at covering video games. Even console games, if you’re looking to play online. The message here is that if it’s on the Internet, you will be charged.
Every gamer, every independent artist, every vlogger, every internet user should be alarmed by the threat of those trying to take away #NetNeutrality Keep the net in the hands of those who make it such an exciting place. With us, the people!
— Abstract (@TheTrueAbstract) December 3, 2017
Start ups, small businesses, and innovation
Already sites can pay to be prioritized to pop up first when it comes to Google searches. This could go further under the repeal of net neutrality in that ISPs could ask online retailers or other services for payment in order to have their site function at a decent speed.
It means new "high-speed serving packages" for your small business, aka "pay us another $400/mo if you want your website to stay up during the holidays."
— (((Yonatan Zunger))) (@yonatanzunger) November 21, 2017
An ex-Google engineer Yonatan Zunger has pointed out how that could lead to a slippery slope of increasing demands.
It means ISPs can demand literally billions in rent from any popular website to keep their access to the public. That means sites like Netflix at best can't invest in shows, and at worst stop existing.
— (((Yonatan Zunger))) (@yonatanzunger) November 21, 2017
If this strategy sounds familiar, you might be recalling it from old mob movies. Local businesses pay the mob for protection. Small sites pay Verizon to keep from being slowed to oblivion.
This puts a huge obstacle in the way of new businesses, content creators, and others. The next Vine, YouTube, Reddit, whatever might never have the chance to take off because it couldn’t pay the toll to get the platform that would have launched it.
We don’t know what we might miss out on.
The world as we know it
Like many apocalypses, this might not happen all at once. Slowly, we’ll become frustrated when Wikipedia doesn’t load, so we’ll turn to Comcast-pedia instead, which loads just fine. I might be dramatic in painting a picture of this dystopia wherein Internet Service Providers get to decide what we can and can’t view on the internet, but we’re at the point where this could happen.
It’s something we do have to think about when something that has become a cultural equalizer is under the threat of being censored in any way—especially when literally no one except for those who can stand to make a profit wants it.
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) December 8, 2017
December 14th, 2017 is going to be a significant day in history should net neutrality be repealed. I sincerely hope that a free internet where you can watch what you want, read what you want, and buy what you want without the influence of Comcast or Verizon won’t become just one of those things ’90s kids will love to remember.
Images: Tech Insider, Twitter, boingboing.net
Daley is a Telecommunications (Video Production) major who also minors in Japanese. Through Byte she does graphic design, video editing, podcast hosting, visual effects, and most importantly writing. Daley does this through the scope of examining the impact pop culture has on our everyday lives.