Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Net Neutrality and You

This is a guest post by Jean Lorrah.

Have you been ignoring or avoiding all the talk about the threat to Net Neutrality, thinking it has nothing to do with you? It's just silly hysteria? After all, websites pop up on your computer almost instantly--what do you care if sites belonging to Comcast or Verizon pop up faster? Or if the internet runs faster for their customers than for you? Or for corporations and wealthy individuals? Surely it can't make a perceptible difference.

Well, if the FCC decides against the Net Neutrality that has prevailed so far (equal treatment for everyone) and for allowing big corporations and wealthy individuals to purchase a place in the "fast lane," it won't mean so much that they go faster, but that you and all the millions of other ordinary people and small businesses will suddenly have slower service.

You may be able to reach Google and Amazon and other big companies with deep pockets as usual, but you will notice a perceptible lag in your email and everything coming from sites that can't afford the new fees. What will happen when you or your children need to download lessons for school? Can your school system afford to pay the price of being in that "fast lane"? If not, what takes a few seconds now may take several minutes--even hours for videos. It could feel like going back to dialup--remember those days? Streaming video could become a thing of the past--oh, you could still pay to watch commercial movies from Netflix or Hulu, but you could no longer see the ones your family posts featuring your grandkids.

We do not know which services will be most affected, or how, but we do know that it's not that those who "pay to play" will be speeded up. It's that the rest will be slowed down. Looking for a local doctor? Good luck waiting for those pages to load. Advertising your own beauty shop, boutique, or specialty store? Good luck waiting for customers to find you online.

Furthermore, what the FCC wants to do could allow your service provider to censor your internet, allowing you to see only what it thinks appropriate. Here's an article that explains that aspect better than I can: TV Creators Warn FCC: Don't Let Internet Become Like Cable Television.

This is what those annoying news stories are all about. Can you do anything about it? Yes, you can. Add your name to the list of protesters before the FCC decides people don't care, so they may as well take the money and run. You only have to sign once, at your choice of the many websites offering the opportunity. Or you may add your name to as many petitions as you feel express your feelings.

But hurry! The FCC will make its decision this Thursday, May 15.

Here are some websites where you can add your name:

Say No To The Internet Slowdown

Save Net Neutrality

Educators for Fair, Unbiased Internet Access

Protect Net Neutrality

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