Net neutrality is a term that has been bantered about for a few years now. In order to gain visibility for this issue, websites have done everything from run advertisements about it to shut down for a day to promote awareness. And yet it leaves many people still wondering ‘what does net neutrality mean and how does it affect me?’
Net neutrality describe the state of the internet now. All websites come to you at the same speed. Your speed is limited by your personal connection, but each website, regardless of the source, communicates at the same speed. What the telecommunications companies want is to offer better communication speeds for the websites willing to pay a premium price, while limiting the communication for other (often independent) websites – websites just like SB118.
Net neutrality – keeping the internet the way it currently is – benefits everyone from single users to almost all businesses. It ensures that all information on the internet stays accessible and open for everyone. Without net neutrality, the company providing your internet access would dictate what websites you can and cannot access – all of it based on which websites are willing to pay your provider the most money or which ones you are willing to pay a premium for. And considering most areas in America only have access to one cable internet provider, it means a monopoly controlling what internet is available for you.
So if net neutrality is such a good thing, who could possibly be trying to get rid of it? The answer is cable and telecommunications companies. They would be the ones gaining the profits from creating a ‘tiered’ system of internet where those websites able to pay a premium price would be given a premium communication speed. And those companies have poured millions of dollars into lobbying for a change that benefits only themselves.
Each year there are multiple dates set aside for activism and awareness of the net neutrality issue until it is defeated. The last one was the ‘Internet Slowdown Day’ hosted on September 10th, 2014. Fortunately the day was a big success, garnering the support of over two million people. You can read all about the outcomes in this great infographic: Join the battle for Net Neutrality.
Even though Internet Slowdown Day has passed us by, there are still plenty of things you can do to support the fight to keep our internet open for everyone. The first one is to get educated. Fleet Admiral Wolf has started a great discussion with plenty of resources in our forums here: Protect Internet Freedom.
From there you can sign petitions and jump to websites with even better information on the issues, including local and national contacts and ways to stay informed about upcoming events and new developments.