Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality
You have probably read about Net Neutrality in the social sphere recently. Net Neutrality, while being a hot topic for half a decade has become a trending topic lately.
The FCC is slated to vote to repeal the Net Neutrality protections enstated by the Obama Administration. The protections enacted by these laws affect not only every citizen but every customer of every American based service.
That means these laws affect all 2.07 million Facebook users, the 2 billion Android users, and 2.5 million daily Snapchats and few people give the Obama Administration credit for thanklessly protecting us before the end of his term.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality started as an idea, an unspoken rule. Net Neutrality states that no matter who accesses the internet they have the same right as every other internet user. Every user can publish content without restriction and they can view all content on the internet equally. Additionally when a user requests a specific service they can trust that they are given unrequited access directly to that service.
For example, if you wanted to stop binging Netflix and watch Youtube videos both sites are given equal treatment when being transferred through Cablevision's fiber to your television.
When the internet was first made, the powers-that-be understood how liberating free and open publication can be for the individual. Up until the smartphone boom our Internet Service Providers played fair. However, it wasn't long before the gatekeepers gave in to greed and began exploiting their customers.
We dont need Net Neutrality!
My first concern for a neutral web started in 2010 when I bought my first smartphone. My Droid Incredible really did everything. I quickly fell in love with Tasker, and Android in general. I shortly realized my favorite feature, wireless tethering, which Verizon charged 20$/mo for.
It was less than a week before I ‘voided my warranty’ by unlocking my device and installing custom software. I was amazed to find out I could tether my device without the 20$ paywall. I soon realized, Verizon could not tell the difference between data I used for tethering or data I used through my Android!
Verizon was adding software to all of their phones who's sole purpose was to extort money from their customers! I soon found out this was not a sole occurance and I became very wary of how much Verizon exploits customers’ ignorance. I have compiled some references to past occurances to demonstrate examples of what Net Neutrality protects us from.
Past Violators of Net Neutrality
Shortly after joining #teamgreen I watched as Apple launched Facetime on the AT&T exclusive iPhone and how quickly AT&T opted to make money off of Apple's innovative feature. I began to watch, and research all of the injustices that corporations took against budding Tech startups.
Madison River is sued by the FCC for blocking VOIP services from their customers. Customers were powerless to this decision as they cannot simply choose another Internet Service Providor.
Comcast, in an effort to deter piracy, blocks p2p services without notifying their customers. This rendered all torrents, legal and illegal, completely useless.
Telus raise nationwide concern when they blocked access to a Pro-Union protest site. This was a direct threat to free speech!
AT&T threatened to remove the iPhone from their network unless Apple blocked Skype and other VOIP services from the iPhone. The rise of 3g and VOIP threatened AT&T as users could use VOIP instead of buying more minutes.
In 2009 Google Voice was launched to bring free Visual Voicemail to their users. AT&T blocked users from installing the app on iPhones. Once the FCC got involved AT&T very quickly changed their minds, and outright denied ever blocking Google Voice.
When Apple launched Facetime, AT&T was quick to restrict Facetime usage to all users unless they paid premium for access to Facetime.
Windstream, and internet service providor, began hijacking users’ Google searches in order to gain traffic on their own search engine. If an average citizen did this they would be jailed for 80 years for ‘misuse of computers’.
MetroPCS began blocking mobile video access from all sites except YouTube. This reduced traffic to competing services such as Vimeo.
The EFF caught several ISP's redirecting users’ Bing and Yahoo search queries to a third party. They did so in order to silently collect money for referrals by redirecting these searches to sites that paid for traffic.
2013 marked the end of a large scale attack on Google Wallet. Google Wallet launched in 2011 and enabled Android users to use their phones to pay and every credit card terminal.
Unfortunately AT&T, Sprint, and Verion had collaborated on a competing solution called ISIS mobile wallet. All three carriers forced Google to hide Google Wallet from the Android Market for all users on the ‘Big Three’. I personally had to unlock and modify this device just to use this innovative service and in retaliation deterred everyone I could from ever signing up for ISIS.
Shortly after, Verizon's Helgi Walker admitted that Verizon would willingly continue to violate Net Neutrality should there be now laws barring them from doing so.
Why is the FCC now repealing Net Neutrality?
The FCC has, for several years now, been a prime example of a government body that has maintained the interest of the people. As we see here, on numerous occasions, the FCC has struck down the entities committing injustices against the people. So why the change of heart?
In January this year Donald Trump designated Ajit Pai as the chairman of the FCC. While Ajit, having served in both the Dept of Justice and US Senate seems highly qualified his intentions can be questioned. Just before joining the FCC Ajit worked for Verizon Wireless’ legal dept.
One can quickly come to the conclusion Verizon is one of the biggest violators of Net Neutrality. It can be inferred that Ajit has defended Verizon in some of these legal battles against the FCC.
How Can We Fight?
Residents here in New Jersey you should be writing to their representatives! It can take as few as ten minutes to write an email to one or all of the following:
House of Representatives:
- Leonard Lance
- Accepts Emails
- Robert Menendez
- Can be contacted through a web form
- Chris Christie
- Can be contacted via Email
While it may seem insignificant, if every American, from every state swayed their representatives to fight the corruption in the FCC we can and will sway the course of history for the better.
The process of contacting your representatives can be automated through the wonderful battleforthenet website, if you can, I encourage you to donate as they run the service out of pocket.
Please stand up with me and Save The Net.