Well… it happened. Many people were expecting this outcome once Mr. Pai made his announcement in April, and later introduced the proposal in November but today it hit a 3-2 vote to repeal what was once what made the internet as we know it open and free. Net Neutrality.
If you need a real quick refresher on the definition of Net Neutrality, feel free to watch this super quick explanation!So, if you are still not aware of what impacts repealing Net Neutrality may have on the world over the next several years, here are some potential outcomes:
- Since the repeal allows ISPs to do a fast-lane/slow-lane approach, you may see Netflix costing more since ISPs will demand cash from them in order to prioritize (or not throttle) bandwidth used by accessing Netflix’s services.
- Because of the above, there may be packages like this that group companies together and charge for as a group of services. You know, like Cable TV right now, which is dying – because of the internet.
- Like a trickle down effect, because of package-based internet bundles, new e-commerce sites, digital entrepreneurs, other startups, online social services and more will be at a disadvantage because they may not be able to afford the “fast-lane” prices and thus could either be A. blocked, or B. significantly reduced speed to access. In layman terms, the FaceBook you know today would never have existed if ISPs had this control 10-15 years ago.
- Workplaces, school and other educational institutions have a high demand for various internet usage. This includes research on information that could otherwise be blocked under new rules.
- In the same vein as #4, silo-ing information into tunnels that are controlled by the few is even more dangerous. Sensationalism aside, it’s really is too Orwellian to think that there will be hindrances to freedom of information, or that we will only have access to information decided by our ISPs.
These 5 potential outcomes are simple variables. No guarantees. However, history depicts a dark past of attempts at this already, prior to legislative action:
In 2016, Morocco’s three ISPs banned the use of Skype and WhatsApp over mobile devices as it cannibalized services that the ISPs were already offering, thus creeping in on revenue. Due to outrage on social media, they rescinded the ban.
In 2012, AT&T blocked usage of Apple’s FaceTime on mobile devices unless subscribers chose a higher-tiered internet package. This was reversed when protesters filed a formal complaint to reverse the block.
In 2008, Bell revealed just how many customers (almost all) were being throttled for their home internet speeds. This was until the CRTC released guidelines on how ISPs cannot throttle internet. Even to this day, Bell has defended its right to “manage” their network to prevent congestion. Also, Canadaland reports Bell is already in the process of pushing through legislation in order to block websites. (Yes, piracy is bad. Setting a precedent that ISPs can block any website without court oversight is worse).
I mean, these 3 situations happened when regulations were a bit lighter. ISPs simply pushed and pushed until something pushed back. Even former President Obama made it personally clear how important Net Neutrality is. The problem now is that repealing Net Neutrality gives ISPs near full control to throttle, block, lane, control and prioritize bandwidth to whatever suits them. I haven’t even mentioned that if a new video game studio releases an amazing game and can provide funds for servers for their multiplayer game, they may have to now shell out, even more, funds for paying ISPs to allow their players to have normal speeds to play their game.
That’s one example, which isn’t to say some things won’t be affected in the long OR short term. Microsoft will be able to pay out the big bucks for their online games to stay afloat and gives players nominal speeds, FaceBook and Amazon clearly will be able to afford zero slowdown prices charged by ISPs and even Netflix will cough up the dough to ensure their viewers don’t get bogged down. With cause and effect, though, comes the potential of your usual services simply costing more due to said services having to pay ISPs.
At the end of the day, the full repeal still has to go through the legal system, multiple tiers of courts, and other red tapes in order to actually provide ISPs this level of control. No need to panic, thinking you won’t be able to access your favorite website tomorrow. However, this isn’t something to simply sit on your butt and let pass until the day comes for the big change. We could wait for SpaceX to launch all its internet satellites just to create a brand new internet, or perhaps wait until an NY Attorney General to win a lawsuit against the FCC for repealing Net Neutrality. Regardless, we all need to pay close attention as this will affect the future of information, all of you and us here at DHTG.
…especially if you would rather not pay for internet that looks like this.
Tell us what you think about Net Neutrality in the comments below!