Imagine a world…
…where your telephone company could purposely mangle your call if you phoned someone with a different phone provider. Where they could block you from phoning someone, letting you believe a number has gone out of service.
Where you go to call someone and out of the blue, you’re told, that your plan doesn’t allow you to call that specific person…unless you start paying $10 more per month.
Think that’s unfair?
Now imagine that with your Internet and you have the beginning of understanding why Net Neutrality has become such an important issue for consumers.
Though the FCC repealed Net Neutrality in 2017, as the fight for Net Neutrality continues to rage in our courts, it’s never been more important to have all the facts.
So what is net neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the basic principle that your Internet provider must treat all of your Internet usage the same – in other words, they can’t deliberately slow down or throttle content or websites that you want to use, while prioritizing others, or make you pay more for certain websites while allowing others to be accessed for “free”.
Net Neutrality is the way the Internet has always worked…until recently.
Just as your phone company doesn’t get to decide which of your phone calls it will put through, your ISP shouldn’t get to interfere with the content you view or post online.
In 2015, the FCC adopted rules that prevented Internet providers from slowing or blocking access to the Internet or charging for faster access to sites. However, in 2017, the new FCC chairman reversed these rules. Several lawsuits ensued, as multiple states moved to make Net Neutrality the law in their own states. In October 2019, the courts ruled that states could make their own laws and that the FCC cannot preempt them. The FCC is now expected to appeal and this matter is expected to go to the Supreme Court.
Why does this matter?
Unlike cable television, the Internet doesn’t just deliver entertainment. The Internet is essential to all facets of our life, whether it’s for communication purposes, education or research. It’s a venue of free speech for individuals. It’s a place where people obtain information necessary for their livelihoods or studies. That’s why it is so important to allow for quality access to all websites, not just the ones your ISP deem appropriate.
But how does this actually affect me?
Providers can purposely slow down or throttle content from platforms like Netflix and YouTube to make it impossible to watch –while the content they produce themselves would be streamed quickly.
Providers can boot you offline and force you to watch paid advertisements before allowing you back on, even if you just need to check your email.
Providers can hold your Internet “hostage” – they have the power to decide that certain websites or streaming platforms are no longer in your “plan” and force you to pay more if you’d like to receive them.
Providers can block or hide content – and the worst part is, they don’t have to tell you they’re doing it, leaving you unaware of the information you are missing. In the past, providers have blocked access to a website to stop a planned protest against their company.
Your safety could be affected. Most recently, Verizon throttled communication among firefighters and emergency personnel during the California wildfires, now allowing their communications to go forward unless they paid more money.
Brought to you by
Bel Air Internet
Bel Air Internet is committed to a free and open Internet and a firm proponent of Net Neutrality and Broadband Privacy. They do not and will never throttle content to their customers or sell their data.