I'm going to talk about something that's not me for a change. WAIT - don't leave yet! I promise it will be in your best interest.
If you haven't heard about the battle for Net Neutrality, and what it possibly means for you, the my God please rush to Google and read up on it. As a term, "Net Neutrality" refers to internet carriers not throttling data speeds or preventing access to websites (competitors or otherwise). At least, that's my understanding. And this is all under attack - Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, former Associate General Counsel at Verizon, and owner of at least one comically large Reese's mug, is threatening to sell our right to a free and open internet to big ISPs. The basic argument for de-regulating ISPs is that it encourages free market, and private investment. However - on the consumer end, how does this help? Investors of ISPs would surely benefit when ISPs can charge us for how much data we use, charge us more if we want to access certain sites, or charge us more to remove speed limitations that they themselves impose on our access.
How does this not help? See above. Internet providers would be able to effectively close down portions of the internet that they don't want their customers accessing. For example, let's say as a Comcast internet customer, I wanted to access Netflix on one of my devices. However, because Comcast is also a cable TV provider and may not want me watching Netflix's original content, they could slow down my speed so I don't get high-quality video on Netflix. Or upcharge me a monthly fee to be able to access Netflix. Or remove my access to Netflix altogether!
Reddit user Nanosauromo summarized the issue this way:
Imagine if a private company built all the roads in the United States and that company had a deal with a car manufacturer, say, Ford. The speed limit is 60mph... but only for Ford cars. If you tried to drive your Toyota or your Volkswagen on one of these roads, it would only go up to 20mph unless you paid the road-building company some ridiculous fee.
User etrnloptimist followed up with:
That's close. But I think it is more apt to say the road builder gets to decide you can drive 80mph if you're going to, say, McDonalds, but you can only drive 20mph if you're going to Walmart.
It is even more apt to then say, well, the road builder just happens to also own a movie theater. So, the road builder will only let you drive 5mph when going to an AMC. But if you want to go to his movie theater, well, you can drive 80mph.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Mostly because cars and roads don't work that way. But you get the idea. Now is the time to tell Ajit Pai that the American people (the real ones, not the fake ones) want a free internet. We need some regulation to prevent large companies from taking advantage of us - they do that enough with Citizens United. Let's stand with one voice and save the internet - before it costs us an extra $5 per month to do so. Visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/ to send a message to your congressman!