What is Net Neutrality?
Last week many companies and businesses around the world participated in a global net neutrality campaign. The topic of net neutrality has been highly controversial over the last several months, but many don’t know the goal of the campaign. Here is everything you need to know.
It all starts with your phone and internet access. Across the entire United States, most people receive their phone and internet access through a few major telecommunications networks including AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, CenturyLink, and Comcast. When you use the internet, or make a phone call, most customers would want their data transferred from one end of the network to the other end, without any manipulation by their service provider. Manipulation could include analyzing what you are viewing or sending, viewing how much data you are transmitting, or even slow your speeds based on your data usage or even race, sex, or ethnicity. Why would these telecoms do this you might ask? One word, money. Service providers could charge you more based on the amount of data you use per month, slow speeds in an entire area and demand more money per month, or do anything else that may help them establish their dominance and collect more money in the process. For instance, if Business 1 paid extra fees for more privilege, their service provider could “accidently” drop the calls of a competing business and route those same calls back to Business 1, and all of this would be completely legal.
As of right now, service providers and phone companies are not allowed to do this. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) placed service providers under a category called “common carriers” to hold service providers accountable for keeping all traffic neutral and unbiased. However, on May 18, 2017 the FCC voted to move forward and remove this policy. On August 16, 2017, the FCC will make a final vote as to move forward with the removal of this policy. Before then, everyday Americans need to make their voice heard. Now, no matter your political beliefs, realize this will affect every single person that uses an internet or phone connection in the United States. If you don’t believe these accusations that telecommunications companies would do this, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon were all busted for this in 2007. Telus was caught even earlier in 2005.
So before you make up your mind, here is the simplest explanation of net neutrality.
Network neutrality means that the FCC would apply, and keep, well established “common carrier” rules to preserve the internet and its freedom and openness. Common carrier policies prohibit the owner of a network (service providers) from discriminating against information of its customers by halting or slowing, or any other form of tampering with the process of transferring data (except for legitimate reasons, such as reducing congestion or blocking spam, etc.).
Every citizen of the United States of America is protected under the constitution with a basic set of unalienable rights, including free-speech. Net neutrality works to protect those rights that were established all the way back on July 4, 1776. Net neutrality is by no means, an issue that “won’t affect me”. You could pay more for internet and phone service, lose your privacy, have your data sold to the highest bidder, and telecommunications companies could, and would, take over. No person’s basic rights are worth more revenue per month, except to the telecommunications businesses. They don’t care about everyday citizens, they care about money and covering themselves.
The next time you make a phone call or go online to check your email or Twitter, think about how you would feel knowing you private and personal information is being collected, analyzed, potentially sold to another business, being slowed or disconnected because of your sex, religion, or ethnicity, or even being forced to pay double for the same service you’ve had for years, just because your service provider can force you to.