Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality
If you’re like most of today’s society, you probably use the Internet quite a bit in your daily life.
Whether it’s for school, work, news, or entertainment, it’s a fabulously versatile medium that we love – or hate! – to rely on. But what if we told you that you may not have full access to all of the types of content that you need and enjoy? If you’re a business owner, what if your potential customers had a harder time accessing your website just because it contains a certain type of content? Not cool, eh? This is exactly why thousands of Internet users came together on July 12, 2017 in support of net neutrality.
Great! But…what exactly is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is a principle that prevents Internet service providers (ISPs) – like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – from being able to speed up, slow down, or block any content, applications or websites you want to use. Why might they want to do this in the first place? Well, the Internet is always growing, as more websites and users are added every day. This creates a constant demand for increased bandwidth. Therefore, ISPs use traffic-management practices to keep their networks running smoothly. This opens the door for ISPs to be able to use these practices to give an unfair advantage to certain types of “preferred” content while blocking or slowing traffic to competing content.
To be fair, a lack of net neutrality rules does not inherently mean that ISPs will use these practices in this way, or that they currently have any malicious intent. Removing these rules really would help them be able to upgrade their networks and increase revenue, which makes good business sense from their perspective. However, leaving the door open to the possibility can make it a lot easier for people in power who do have malicious intent to abuse that ability in the future to, in effect, sensor the Internet for economic, political, or personal gain. Yikes!
Aside from the ethical implications — serious as they are — the end of net neutrality has practical implications for small and mid-sized businesses too. If certain types of content can be slowed down or blocked, and your business website happens to have that type of content, you’re not going to get a lot of traffic. As if contending with search engine optimization (SEO) wasn’t hard enough!
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to begin relaxing net neutrality rules back in May, but this battle has actually been going on for quite a while.
For a more in-depth look at the ins-and-outs and history of net neutrality, check out PublicKnowledge.org. If you’d like to join the movement in favor of net neutrality, check out BattleForTheNet.com. You can check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation for juicy info, too. Net neutrality is a complex issue that we’ve only scratched the surface of here, but it’s an important one, and it’s worth learning more about. Arm yourself with knowledge, and let’s get to work!⚡️ Massive protest to save #NetNeutrality by @fightfortheftr https://twitter.com/i/moments/885130181039579136Click To Tweet
We’re big fans of free speech, Internet freedom, human rights, and access to information. We’re speaking up about this, and encourage you to as well!