Net Neutrality for the Common Person
Let me take a moment to introduce myself so that you understand where I'm coming from...
I'm a female, non-techy, who works for a media company. To say that I don't know the first thing about Net Neutrality is probably an understatement. I didn't even know what cable management was until I started working here; don't judge.
When everyone in my office started talking about Net Neutrality, I didn't really understand why it was such a big deal to them as individuals and to us as a media company, and our clients.
In order to help me understand they suggested I watch this video on Twitter featuring Burger King. They did a fantastic job explaining this in a way that anyone could understand. If you haven't watched it you should (click the link):
At the end of the video, I didn't really see what the problem was with having to pay to have better, faster service. Doesn't better service, and paying more money for something mean that its better quality?
Take for example the difference between Target and Neiman's. I love me some Target and I would love to shop at Neiman's but I'm balling on a budget (!). If I were to get a black leather bomber jacket (I may or may not want one these at the moment) at Target versus Neiman's, I am guaranteed to pay at least half the price (probably more if we're honest). However, I might be sacrificing the quality of the jacket. If I want my jacket to last longer, be a better overall quality, then maybe I need to save up my money and buy it at Neiman's (I still love you Target!).
Needless to say, I didn't get what the big deal was, so I just decided to ask some of my super techy friends and co-workers...
Why is everyone so upset about this Net Neutrality business?
This is how they (all dudes) decided to answer me:
"If you are the type of person that likes to spend hours every night on Pinterest creating board after board of projects that you will never do, and recipes that you will most likely fail at if you attempt them, then only paying a certain amount for the type of internet that supports your not so healthy habit will be fine for you. You're probably paying upwards of $50/month now and you don't even use it. Paying the minimum based on what you want to accomplish when you're online won't' affect you as much, it might not affect you at all, it could even help you save some money.
However, if you are the type of person that likes to play games, get on social media, shop, Netflix and chill, then you are getting charged more based on what data you use. You better hope that the companies whose websites, gaming sites, streaming sites you are on, pay for that priority access because if they don't it's going to be a slow time."
At this point in the conversation, I still feel like this isn't that big of a deal, then I decided to do a little research on my own.
Google to the rescue!
Advocating for Net Neutrality is like being pro-free trade. An "open marketplace" ensures that everyone is equal in the eyes of the ISP (Internet Service Providers), meaning that you can use email, download music and movies, stream movies, play games, troll on social media, and you will pay the same fees as someone who just uses it for email or social media.
However, ISPs are BIG BUSINESS in the world we currently live in, and they want to cash in just like everyone else.
They want to charge more for better quality and a faster speed so that companies, like the one I work for, will have to pay more so that their customers have the best experience.
Those in favor of Net Neutrality are concerned about the financial implications for customers, possible censorship, and more monitoring. ISPs would have more control over what we are able to access, possibly pointing us toward or away from certain services.
Those opposed to Net Neutrality are mostly concerned about innovation and investment. They think that Net Neutrality will keep people, companies, from innovating a better broadband infrastructure (i.e. computer networks). Net Neutrality offers no incentive to invest in the better computer networks that might be invented.
This is what I think after my extensive research:
This hurts more than just media and tech companies, it hurts us as individuals too. For a small tech company, this could mean disaster. For the individual, it could be the end of free wifi at their favorite coffee spot (sorry hipsters!), but for real, who wants to pay out the wazoo to stream Netflix?
Why should discrimination be ok in regards to the internet when it isn't ok with anything else, anywhere else in the world?
I'm not trying to wade into a political argument, especially when it's an argument nobody can win. I'm simply suggesting that we, as Americans, be better informed about what is going on and how it will affect more than just us.
The bottom line is there are pros and cons for each side, just like everything else, but for this non-techy chick, I prefer an open market when it comes to the internet. If I want more, faster, better then I can make the decision to pay for it, but I don't want to be forced.
The other question I have, that I hope you can answer, is has anyone asked the inventor of the internet, Al Gore, what he thinks about Net Neutrality? :)