Net neutrality–or the idea that the internet should be free and open–is circling the drain. The FCC is planning to repeal the 2015 law that banned blocking, throttling, or fast-laning web content. But what, exactly, are the implications of doing so?
Even though ending net neutrality would essentially destroy everything that makes the internet great, the conversation around it is filled with confusing jargon. To make the stakes crystal clear, motion graphics designer Louis Wesolowsky, animator Chris Zachary, sound designers Sonos Sanctus, and voice-over artist Kirby Ferguson created a three-minute video that explains what net neutrality means for our culture as a whole and what repealing the laws that uphold it would do.
“The internet is a free market and an open democracy where our choices determine which things spread and become popular,” the video states. “[Internet service providers] would become the first internet gatekeepers in the U.S. history able to decide what sites and videos get seen. The economic, cultural, and political repercussions of this are enormous.”
Essentially, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T want the government to deregulate the internet so they can make more advantageous business decisions. They could prioritize their own content over competitors (imagine them slowing Netflix so you get frustrated and subscribe to their own streaming service instead); offer service packages structured more like cable so customers pay more money to access more sites (Portugal already does this and charges separate fees for email, social media, video, and music sites); or censor sites that criticize their practices.
As the video explains, if the internet was like this from the start, blogging would never have taken off. Independent artists and content creators who became popular on Snap and YouTube might never have found their audiences. Bitcoin likely wouldn’t exist either. Neither would puppy cams.
“The online innovation and creativity of the United States is the result of corporations and governments not having the power to control what’s on the internet,” the video states. “They should never have the power to decide the next political uprising, or how we communicate, or how we pay for things. That power is ours.”
Plain and simple, repealing net neutrality laws will revoke the rights of internet users like you and me.