Net Neutrality for You and Me

network-782707_1280 Brad Bennion

President Donald Trump hasn’t said too much about net neutrality, a rule that states Internet providers have to treat all data as equal. There were definitely more important things to worry about during the election, so it makes sense. But while the issue hasn’t been very high on the post-election post-it list, some of Trump’s cabinet picks are adamantly against the regulations that are in place. Ajit Pai is set to become the next head of the FCC and although he’s long been a part of the organization, putting him in charge could signal a reversal of course.

I’m not the kind of person that usually advocates for strong regulation,  but net neutrality is irreplaceable. It’s a regulation that works to help entrepreneurs, not tear them down. You might not like it, but people like Justin Bieber rose to fame through sites like YouTube, and many startups get their foot in the door by providing internet services like streaming, online storefronts or even video games. No matter what type of business there’s going to be some component of it that uses the internet. It’s simply a fact of this day and age.

Net neutrality says that, faced with these things, ISPs like Verizon or Comcast can’t be biased in how they deliver that content to you. They can’t charge you more to go to a certain website than they would for any other. Only the amount of data should be taken into account when the customer gets billed, not the origin of it.

It’s a rule that’s come under assault. Zero-rating is sort of a new concept in the industry but it’s already caught on. ISPs now let users visit certain sites for free without having to worry about data charges. For example, AT&T does this, letting people use the streaming TV service DirecTV Now without being charged for the data they use while on it. At a glance it sounds like a sweet deal, but it works to eliminate competition. How can anyone compete with DirecTV now if their service is going to end up costing $10 or $20 more a month because they can’t get the same preferential treatment? If you love Netflix as much as I do, this should be concerning.

Without net neutrality, internet service providers get to pick and choose the winners. They get to tell the customer who to listen to, what to watch and how to watch it.

Or not.

Just upgrade to the platinum package for $49.99 more a month, and you can visit Wikipedia.

That’s not a good policy for a free market and a free society. Net neutrality has to be protected, and while it might not have been a priority during the election, I hope that Trump works to help small business entrepreneurs like myself rather than put up even more barriers.

The internet is one of the best innovations to come out of America and it’d be an unfortunate turn of events if we become the people to axe it for corporate profit.

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