The silent killer of the Internet
High blood pressure has been renowned as the silent killer of Americans, but what is the silent killer of the Internet? Surely, it comes without question to the average person, both in the United States and out, that the Internet will never be limited. The Internet, and how we use it, is immortal. However, the silent killer has come and it appears that no one knows whether or not it will successfully take out its victim.
This killer, or rather killers, are none other than Internet service providers, such as Comcast, who are trying to restrict the liberties people have when surfing the web. Currently, three million people have filed complaints to the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) regarding net neutrality, according to the New York Times. Yes, three million is a huge number when it is looked at from afar, but it’s not enough. To put it in simple terms: under a net neutral environment, corporations cannot give prioritization to any website on the Internet.
The way Internet service providers give prioritization to certain companies is through the limitation or giving of bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another in a given period of time. In the context of Netflix and Comcast, Comcast was limiting the data transfer rate of Netflix to their customers.
Contrary to popular belief, net neutrality is not in place right now, a concept that many corporations are already taking advantage of. Comcast is most notorious for its exemplification of how greedy corporations truly are under a non–net neutral environment.
In February of 2014, according to CNN, Netflix reluctantly agreed to pay Comcast for higher speeds after being tormented with poor speeds for one month. The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix speeds were slowed down due to a statement Netflix issued against Comcast, which claimed that Comcast bought out Time Warner Cable in an attempt to monopolize the industry, and put at risk the principle of internet providing equality. Consequently, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Verizon followed Comcast’s example of slowing down speeds. Netflix did and does not deserve to pay more money for equal speeds given to other companies; it’s simply outrageous. This is paid prioritization at its finest.
Opponents of net neutrality turn to the concept of economic competition as their main argument. Ars Technica, a technology news website, says that many corporations are looking at the United Kingdom’s model of a competitive market. This economic model limits how much bandwidth data any Internet service provider can provide. By doing so, small, entrepreneur internet service providers can be more involved in a competitive market.
Proponents of net neutrality believe that the simple way of achieving a net neutral environment is through reclassification of Internet service providers as “common carriers” and as “telecommunications” under Title II of the Communication Act. Under this classification, Internet service providers will have to treat all data equally, as do telephone service providers.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal covered President Obama announcing that he is “unequivocally” committed to the maintenance of net neutrality. He later stated, however, that he holds no authority over the FCC and that the White House has clear expectations for their final decision.
Comcast and others have a fond place in our hearts for providing users the best of opportunities to share opinions over the Internet. Net neutrality is the only way to ensure that this freedom of expression continues. Let’s not let the silent killers strangle us in our sleep.