hella bus goes to wonktown: net neutrality
Net Neutrality often feels like the prototypical "I've heard of it; no idea what it means" political issue. And the whole thing can get pretty wonky, but the truth is: it's hugely important right at this very moment, especially for us young folks.
Net Neutrality, at its core, is an attempt to keep the fundamental open nature of the internet intact. As it currently stands, the internet is an open space for new ideas to circulate and a central part of our culture and economy. It is the birthplace of everything from Google to lolCatz. If internet providers gain control of both the content and the distribution of internet (be it wireless or wired), Net Neutrality proponents fear that corporate conglomerates like Comcast and AT&T will prioritize come content over others. In other words, the fancy Verizon homepage might run much faster than, say, hipster puppies (if they take away my hipster puppies...). At its worst, content providers could actually block access to certain websites. If an internet start-up threatened the business model of a large telecom company, the corporate giant could conceivably slow down or block the start-up effectively killing competition. Net Neutrality allows new internet start ups an opportunity to compete with the corporate powers that be.
Net Neutrality legislation would prevent major telecom outfits from discriminating against content that either can't pay, or they don't like. Net Neutrality supporters are imagining a future world, much like our own, except the roads of the internet (proverbial, I'm well aware they are actually tubes) are split between an express lane for some (selected by corporate boardrooms) and the 520 bridge at 5:30 pm for everyone else. So why is it suddenly getting whole new levels of attention? Well, Google, a longtime proponent and beneficiary of the open internet, has recently turned around and partnered with Verizon to be the first to threaten Net Neutrality principals. Check out the Daily Show's thoughts on the deal.
You can see Google's response here.
So what's going to happen? Well at the moment, things could be better for lovers of the open internet. All 95 candidates who signed the Net Neutrality pledge lost in their elections this year. Although, congressman Jay Inslee, Washington state congressman and not warlock, has been all kinds of boss when it comes to open internet legislation. Really the best hope for Net Neutrality lies in the hands of these suit-wearing peeps below:
Those dashing folks are our illustrious FCC commissioners! They could well indirectly decide whether or not you're brilliant Tumblr idea will ever really succeed out their in the interwebs. The commissioners have indicated they support net neutrality regulations on the whole, but aren't sure whether or not they have the power (read: the guts) to do it in the face of crazy amounts of corporate lobbyists. Organizations like Free Press are pushing hard to convince the FCC to take action, and they could use all the help they can get. Want to join the debate? Well thankfully the New York Times has compiled a nice collection of information covering both sides of the argument. You can also here Obama's thoughts here. Use the power of this open internet of ours!