The point of this blog and all of the following posts I plan on writing is to take important issues in the world of technology and explore what they mean exactly for regular people like us, with no hidden (or not so hidden) agenda pushing you to have a certain view on the subject. In no way am I qualified to tell people on what to think about these subjects so I will try to keep my inevitable tangents to a minimum, but no promises. I also want to make clear that these posts are meant to spark an interest in the presented subject, to be the beginning of your journey of learning more, not the end.
With that said, let’s get to it.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality has been a hot topic in the news lately, and with the term being thrown around so often I had to ask myself; do I even know what it means? The answer was no, at least not to the point where I could knowledgeably discuss it with someone.
According to my secret and exclusive source on the internet, (Wikipedia) Net Neutrality is the concept that all data on the internet should be treated the same by both internet service providers (ISP) and governments. So this is saying that regardless of what apps, content, or websites you visit on the internet, you as a user should not be treated differently because of those factors through either throttled speeds or price hikes from your ISP. For the most part, this is currently how the internet operates. There was an incident in 2009 where Comcast slowed the internet usage of users who were using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as BitTorrent, which caused quite a stir among the technology world. Recently the subject of Net Neutrality has resurfaced, so let’s look at the arguments for and against it.
The Argument for (Saving Netflix)
While obviously not the only company that could be hurt by rolling back the Federal Trade Commission’s (FCC) rules implemented in 2015, Netflix could be one of the most severely hurt. Just in case you aren’t familiar with Netflix and the culture surrounding it: just kidding, you are on the internet, so you know what Netflix is. If somehow you don’t know what Netflix is, reading this is not something you should be doing with your time.
Rolling back the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulations would open the door for ISPs to mess with your Netflix marathoning. Allowing ISPs to treat data from different sources or for different users differently, could affect download speeds for Netflix specifically, or cause you (or Netflix itself) to pay more for higher quality speeds. Does that not sound fair? Then you probably are in support of Net Neutrality.
The Argument Against (Get out of our business, government)
For every issue, there is always another side to consider, if there wasn’t another side to it, then there wouldn’t be an issue in the first place… Anyway, the ISPs are arguing that data-hungry apps and services like the previously mentioned Netflix, YouTube, and P2P networks cause network congestion and slow down the services that all of their other customers are able to receive. So why shouldn’t these data hungry services need to pay extra since they put such a strain on the internet connectivity available for all of the other paying customers? Not the worst argument I’ve ever heard.
So What Now?
As of the upload date of this post, the FCC has rules in place to stop ISPs from giving preferential treatment of some types of data over other types. But this is a fast moving world and the current Administration is looking to shake things up in just about every sector. I am not here to tell you what to think, but I hope this helped explain the basics of this complex issue to help you form an opinion on the future of the internet. Whether you are for or against Net Neutrality, never stop searching for answers.