I am interrupting my regularly scheduled book blogging to bring you a message. It’s a message about net neutrality. Why do I care? Why should you care?
As a librarian, one of the bedrock principles of my profession is that you should be free to read (and view and listen to) whatever you want, as long as it’s not against the law. The internet, good, bad and sometimes very, very weird, has become a big part of what we all read, watch and listen to. The internet is a part of so much of what we do, from keeping up with the news to keeping up with our friends to keeping up with our shopping to keeping up with the latest cat (or dog) videos.
It’s a part of our lives.
One of the things that makes that experience so rich and varied is that the net is neutral. Anyone who wants to, including small-scale book bloggers like me, can decide that they want to publish their work on the net. And I can. All I need is access to a computer, or even a tablet. While there are plenty of things I can decide to add on to my blog that may make it cost a little more than free, if I want to set up an account on blogger, which is free, and create my blog entirely using free software, I can.
For me and all the relatively small-scale content producers, net neutrality makes our work not merely accessible, but actually possible. And for many of us this is a labor of love that might or might not, mostly not, pay its expenses.
Net neutrality protects my ability to do this. It protects a lot more than that, but that’s one tiny slice.
But a bigger slice of what net neutrality protects is your ability, and mine, to access whatever we want. Because the companies with deep pockets, while they can certainly make slicker websites and better experiences than places on a shoestring, right now can’t restrict who gets to see what. Eliminating net neutrality takes that away. Instead, a very few very large companies that control internet access, the big internet service providers, would have control over what you see and hear and do. How? Through your wallet.
Big ISP A could give preferential treatment to sites that it hosts. And charge extra fees to let those sites reach their users. And charge prohibitive fees for sites at Big ISP B to access users who are signed up with Big ISP A. In the middle of all this, little sites get squeezed from all sides, forced to pay huge access fees just to provide a half-way decent experience for people who want to consume what we produce.
Creativity dies. The fun goes out of the internet. A lot of the usefulness probably goes out too. And the internet gets to be like cable TV, where if you want channel A you have to take channel B-ZZ and pay for all of them, just to get that one thing you really want. Since those big ISPs will control internet access, they will be able to charge whatever they want. And if they decide that the tiny channel you like best isn’t worth their time, it will just…go away.
Don’t let that happen.
On July 12, 2017, websites, Internet users, and online communities will come together to sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality. Learn how you can join the protest and spread the word at https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/.
Right now, new FCC Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai has a plan to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies immense control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, the FCC will give companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T control over what we can see and do on the Internet, with the power to slow down or block websites and charge apps and sites extra fees to reach an audience.
If we lose net neutrality, we could soon face an Internet where some of your favorite websites are forced into a slow lane online, while deep-pocketed companies who can afford expensive new “prioritization” fees have special fast lane access to Internet users – tilting the playing field in their favor.
But on July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them. Websites, Internet users, and online communities will stand tall, and sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality.
The Battle for the Net campaign will provide tools for everyone to make it super easy for your friends, family, followers to take action. From the SOPA blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we’ve shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption. Now, we have to do it again!
Learn more and join the action here: https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12