The FCC has just repealed Obama-era Net Neutrality rules that insured that once you paid an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on a fee, they had to give you free access to ALL legal content on the internet. They could not charge you an access fee to stream a movie on Netflix or stream a ball game on ESPN. Additionally, they could not charge content providers such as Netflix, ESPN, and so on a fee to have their content accessible over the ISP’s network. That just changed.
The FCC, by resending what was called Net Neutrality, will now allow large ISP companies to charge whatever they want, not just for access to the Internet in general but to specific content.
As a result of this ruling, in the future you may have to pay a premium fee above and beyond what you are now paying to be able to access your favorite Internet sites. Your ISP may say if you want to be able to reach some popular sites through their network then you have to pay them an extra fee on top of what you are currently paying to access that site. Alternatively, your ISP may tell the sites that you want to reach that they have to pay the ISP a fee to use the ISP’s network to distribute their content. Either way, your Internet bill is going up—maybe way up.
This new FCC ruling is going to allow ISPs to operate much like cable companies. You pay a basic fee and get access to a lot of channels/sites that you are not interested in but have to pay a premium to access the most popular sites. You want to stream a movie from Netflix or Amazon Video, pay up. You want to watch the Georgia Bulldogs defeat Oklahoma over the Internet, pay up.
It get’s worse. Because of this new FCC ruling, your ISP has NO legal requirement to let you access ANY site. They can block sites that are perfectly legal for any reason—the site owners didn’t pay a fee, the CEO of the ISP doesn’t like the site’s content, the ISP has its own competing shopping service and wants to make you use their service and not Amazon. Maybe your ISP doesn’t completely block a site they dislike. They just slow it down (throttle it back) to the point you get so frustrated, you sign off.
It gets even worse. The Internet has thrived because it allowed every guy and gal with a new idea for a new service or product, every person who had something to say, every person with an interest to learn, an inexpensive platform to make their voice heard and to realize their dream. For a small sum, you can go online and create a company that can reach millions. You can go online and voice your opinion and recruit others to support your ideas. I know. I write this blog. I know. My wife and I run a online training company that would have been impossible for us to create if not for a free, open and un-controlled Internet.
Opponents of Net Neutrality say they want to keep the Internet free of government interference. What we are getting with the end of Net Neutrality is an Internet that is CONTROLLED by some of the largest corporations in the world. Net Neutrality DID NOT put the Federal government in control of the Internet. Quite the opposite. Net Neutrality insured that NO ONE, no company, no government, no person no matter how rich or powerful would control access to the Internet. Net Neutrality insured that every American when he or she signed up for Internet service, would have access to the entire Internet, not just the sites that some powerful corporation or rich CEO wanted them to see.
ISPs say they would never do what I suggest they will do in this article. Do you believe them? Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” I don’t normally agree with Reagan but this time he is right. We need verification to keep big ISPs honest. We lost that with the latest FCC ruling.
The Republicans on the FCC didn’t set the Internet free. They locked it in a prison controlled and operated by a few large corporations with a “Bigly” interest in making a whole lot of money by controlling who and how we have access to that prison and the Internet within. Worse, some individuals who control these large corporations now have the ability to use that control to forever alter the direction of our country by pushing their ideas and preventing those with opposing views from presenting theirs. If I control your access to information, I control you.
Net Neutrality was a GOOD IDEA, A NECESSARY IDEA. Ending it puts all of us in danger.
Write Congress. Say YES to Net Neutrality. Say YES to a FREE Internet.