Why Today’s Net Neutrality Protest Matters (Some People Still Refuse to Get The Point)
If you visited this blog on the afternoon of 12 July, you may have been bothered by a nag-screen loading emblem and message about net neutrality.
What you’re seeing is the result of a plugin I installed to use today, the net neutrality protest day (I will disable the plugin in a few more hours). I belatedly joined the protest after reading comments on Twitter that completely missed the point.
This is a lie. We already have "paid prioritization". It's called "CDNs". And the Internet wouldn't work without them. https://t.co/zrpgK7aSQP
— Rob Graham?(??????) (@ErrataRob) July 12, 2017
Rob is trying to confuse the issue by arguing that since the net lacks equality it obviously also lacks neutrality. He’s conflating two different and unrelated issues here; to put it simply, net equality has nothing to do with net neutrality.
As Rob points out, the net is inherently unequal because some companies can afford to hire better engineers, pay for faster servers, and otherwise invest in hardware.
The net is inherently unequal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still argue for net neutrality.
What we are protesting today are companies (mainly ISPs) that want to choose which content gets priority.
This issue is at least seven years old, and when it first came up the focus was on companies wanting to be paid twice for delivering the same data once.
The same story cropped up again every couple years (until Obama’s FCC passed the net neutrality rules that Trump’s FCC wants to remove). If it was not Verizon and Google, it was Netflix and Verizon, or Google and Orange. The ISPs were already being paid once by their customers for the data the customers request, and those companies wanted to be paid a second time by the websites that are sending the data.
But in 2017 it is clear that this isn’t just about Verizon getting greedy.
It’s about the ISPs deciding who gets to have a voice.
If the ISPs can decide which website gets priority then it follows that they can also decide who doesn’t get heard.
It will be Comcast interfering with BitTorrent traffic all over again, only this time around Comcast won’t be blocking downloads. Instead they will be keeping you from hearing about government protests, or whichever side of an issue it doesn’t like.
And that affects everyone.
The day of protest is mostly over with, but if you would still like participate it is not too late. The EFF has a form you can use to send a comment to the FCC, protesting its plans to end net neutrality.