Net Neutrality: Don't Listen To The Hype

  • Adam Casalino
  • Jul 14, 2017 12:37PM

Most people don’t know what net neutrality is. Those that do, think it’s a vital link between freedom and the end of the world.

The reality is, net neutrality is another front for giving the government more power and lobbyists greater influence over our society.

Not that long ago, I would have disagreed. I was a proponent of net neutrality. Back in 2012, I cheered with the rest of the world when potentially dangerous bills SOPA and PIPA were axed, all because Wikipedia went black for a day.

At the time, there were serious concerns that the government was going to give Internet Service Providers unprecedented power to control what you see. They might have been able to limit your access to websites or services by throttling your speed or even outright blocking them. You could have been looking at a situation where you had access to some sites, but had to pay a premium to see others.

Scary stuff, right? I mean, if a private business you choose to use starts to censor your content, where would it end!?

Wikipedia and other sites were able to whip enough people up into a frenzy that SOPA and PIPA died a swift death. After many calls and emails to congressmen, lawmakers deemed the duo of bills toxic and decided not to vote on them. The real question was why they got so far. Then President Obama, who vowed to protect net neutrality, never promised a veto threat, which would have ended the issue immediately.

The aftermath of this turn of events was the FCC trying to preserve the concept of net neutrality, though many criticized their rules were watered-down and might not do much to help.

Jump forward to this year. President Trump is in office. The libtards of the country are looking for new fronts to oppose him. The more tech savvy realize that the president has appointed a republican, pro-business chairman to the FCC. A man who does not like net neutrality.

Oh my God! The sky is falling! The internet is going to die in a fire of blood and misery! At least that’s what some people are thinking.

The new republican controlled FCC are poised to repeal the massive net neutrality rules passed in 2015, a 400-page document so controversial even liberals were worried about it. From back then:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to approve a wildly controversial Net Neutrality policy that will regulate and tax the Internet intensely, much like the old AT&T telephone monopoly. To help secure political support, Chairman Tom Wheeler made last-minute revisions at the request of Google, according to Politico‘s sources at the Commission.

Congress, conservatives and even liberals who were once advocates for Net Neutrality are frantic over rumors and innuendos about what secret language might be in the most far-reaching and intrusive regulatory action of the 21st century. (Breitbart, Feb 2015)

It’s all getting a bit confusing, if you ask me. Why all the rules? Why can’t we just keep things the way they are, right?

The problem is, things are never kept the way they are. Change is inevitable. And when you’re talking about the most disruptive form of communication in the last 1000 years, there are going to be forces that want to destroy it.

Or at least, regulate it to the point that it’s well under their thumb.

You see, the Internet has been a growing beast. In the early 90’s we didn’t know just how powerful it would become. Slow dial-up speeds ensured that the Internet was just a hobby. Something you did when you weren’t expecting a phone call (and if you did get a call, you were knocked off).

The Internet was a place for weirdos and nerds to play games and download pornography. “Normal” people read newspapers, watched TV, listened to the radio, shopped at malls, and socialized at bars. They only went online to read a few emails, most of which were spam.

My, how the world’s changed.

By the early 2000’s it was obvious that the Internet was a force to be reckoned with. It had already destroyed the music industry. People were downloading music, legally or otherwise, making CD shops and even radio obsolete. Increased Internet speeds made watching videos even easier. TV was already feeling the pain, as more people would rather watch silly cat videos on YouTube than NBC’s primetime lineup. In only a few more years, this thing called Netflix would appear.

But still, the old guard ignored it. Most tech-aware people knew the Internet would destroy other industries, like publishing and news. The establishment, however, laughed it off. As Nick Bilton explained:

I also felt the raindrop moment firsthand when I began working at The New York Times, in the early 2000s. Back then, the newspaper’s Web site was treated like a vagrant, banished to a separate building blocks away from the paper’s newsroom on West 43rd Street. Up-and-coming blogs—Gizmodo, Instapundit, and Daily Kos, which were setting the stage for bigger and more advanced entities, such as Business Insider and BuzzFeed—were simultaneously springing up across the country. Yet they were largely ignored by the Times as well as by editors and publishers at other news outlets. More often than not, tech-related advances—including e-readers and free online blogging platforms, such as WordPress and Tumblr—were laughed at as drivel by the entire industry, just as Napster had been years earlier. (Vanity Fair)

It may seem crazy to my younger readers how people in 2000 could laugh off the Internet. But even today there are people who underestimate its power.