My professional trajectory over the past 20 years was shaped and, in fact, made possible by an open, neutral Internet, a place where all ideas and content could compete regardless of the wealth of the individuals or groups behind them. One of the things that drew me to this profession was the fact that anyone could have a Web presence. Anyone could create a space to speak their mind, share an idea, connect with others, start a business. It felt like the purest form of freedom.
The sonic boom of creativity that brought us everything from Wikipedia to Hampsterdance to iPhones to Google to…you name it…happened because the pipes didn’t discriminate. A byte from one place was treated the same as any other. This openness spurred an economic and technological revolution, and inspired fierce competition.
Killing net neutrality is not only a blow against creativity and innovation, it’s a blow against free markets, although GOP leadership will tell you otherwise. The truth is most of us have access to one, maybe two, ISPs. These ISPs, therefore, have local and regional monopolies; killing net neutrality means they are now allowed to double-dip, charging not only end-users for the pipe, but content producers, too. Those who don’t pay could be throttled or blocked. That’s not a way to encourage innovation and competition, nor is it a way to do what’s right for consumers.
Furthermore, it’s hardly democracy. According to a recent study by the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland:
- 83% of respondents oppose repealing net neutrality
- 75% of Republicans oppose repealing net neutrality
- 89% of Democrats oppose repealing net neutrality
- 86% of independents oppose repealing net neutrality
But, a few minutes ago, it happened. So in the future, when you want to visit a site and you can’t because it costs extra or it’s not on your ISP’s plan or your ISP throttles the speed so it’s basically unusable, remember this day, a day when yet another corporate shill sold your freedom to the highest bidders. And if you have a Web presence — and really, who doesn’t these days?—get ready. Maybe ISPs won’t discriminate against you, but after today, there are no regulations saying they can’t.
Not angry yet? Watch this condescending, self-serving, disingenuous and, frankly, cringeworthy video FCC Chairman Ajit Pai created to try to convince you everything will be a-okay. (I don’t usually recommend reading YouTube comments, but in this case I’ll make an exception. People aren’t buying it.)