Killing Net Neutrality Should Terrify Everyone, Regardless of Political Affiliation

To this day, it’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that there are people who are speaking out against net neutrality. This issue proves that some people will simply oppose something because the “other side” supports it. Most of those I’ve encountered who oppose net neutrality have absolutely no idea what the term actually means. The vast majority of them are simply conservatives who oppose it because Democrats support it. All they’re doing is parroting the nonsense they’ve been fed by someone who either doesn’t understand net neutrality, or is acting like nothing more than a paid spokesperson for big Internet service providers.

By the way, net neutrality is a horrible term to use to describe this. When I was first introduced to it years ago, I was a bit confused as to what it referenced. But the fact is, it’s about as simple of a concept as you can get with something as complex as the Internet.

Before going any further, let me state that I am writing this not as a progressive, because this is not a partisan issue – even if some are trying to make it out to be. I am writing this as nothing more than someone who uses the Internet and wants to see that it remains the beacon of freedom, expression and information that it’s been practically since its inception.

And that’s what net neutrality means.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

Net neutrality is preserving the Internet how it’s been since the first time 99.99 percent of us used it. That is, whatever Internet speed you’re paying for is the speed at which each website you choose to visit is delivered to your computer. So, if you’re paying Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T for 60mbps download speeds – every single website you visit should be delivered to you at that speed by your ISP.

Can someone please explain to me how any sane person would oppose that?

Let me paint a picture for those who seem to believe net neutrality is a bad thing for whatever asinine reasons.

Many of us have Netflix, right? It’s a simple enough service. Someone pays a few bucks every month and that gives them unlimited access to an entire library of movies to stream directly to whatever device that’s connected to the Internet. Aside from a Netflix subscription, the only other thing that is required is an Internet connection fast enough to handle streaming titles from the Netflix service.

Fairly basic and easy to understand, right? Good.

If someone has Netflix’s streaming service, it’s likely that they also have an Internet that is sufficient enough to deliver movies or shows to whatever connected device they might possess. For example, I’ll use what I’m currently paying for both. I have a 100mbps connection that I pay $50 per month for along with $13.99 for Netflix since I have the ultra-high definition package. Which means if you’re a consumer like me, you’re paying $63.99 per month plus taxes and fees for Internet and Netflix.

So, as long as you’re paying your monthly fees, all should be well, right?

Well, not without net neutrality.

See, without rules to preserve net neutrality, ISPs can throttle (slowing down) access to Netflix (or any other service or website) unless they pay higher premiums to these ISP’s such as Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast. However, if a service or website decides they don’t want to (or can’t) pay a higher premium to these ISPs, the consumers paying their Netflix subscription fees, and their ISP’s monthly chargers — would not be getting the services for which they were paying.

How is it fair (or legal for that matter) for someone who’s paying $50 per month for 100mbps download speeds to be unable to access a service that they’re paying for, such as Netflix, because their ISP has decided to not give them access to that website at the speeds for which they are paying?

Now imagine it with news or information.

What if your ISP is owned by a huge supporter of the party you oppose? They could theoretically decide that they’re going to throttle access to the media sites they don’t like while providing full, high-speed access to the sources that they do support. You could be a huge Trump supporter who visits Fox News or Breitbart numerous times per day, only to discover that the speed at which those sites were being delivered to you was throttled to such an extent that they’re unusable. Of course, the same thing could happen to progressives, too.

That’s why I say this isn’t a partisan issue. Ending net neutrality screws over both sides.

What if you have AT&T’s Internet, but they decide they don’t need to allow people to access Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile? What if Verizon decides to throttle access to DIRECTV (owned by AT&T) in retaliation?

See how this can open the floodgates to an unimaginable number of issues?

Ending net neutrality essentially puts a ransom on Internet access. It would allow greedy ISPs to force companies, organizations, or websites to pay more money to be given access to their subscribers, otherwise they could effectively shut down all access to them. Not only could this force moderate and small websites to shutdown due to the inability to pay these ransoms, but it’s ripping customers off by requiring all of us to pay a certain amount of money per month under the assumption that we’re going to be provided with a certain level service that our ISPs won’t actually be providing.

Then guess what happens after companies like Netflix, Amazon, Walmart, and other major companies cave to these ransoms? They’re going to raise prices!

This means not only will ISPs be cheating their customers by not actually providing the services they’ve promised, consumers are going to get screwed again when these companies that do pay these premiums pass those costs onto them by way of higher prices for goods and services.

In other words, the American consumer is going to get screwed over from just about every direction in all of this.

While I understand that there are millions of Americans who oppose anything and everything to do with government regulation, this is as basic as it gets. Besides, not all government regulations are bad. After all, did you eat lunch or dinner today without becoming violently ill or dying? Did you drive on our streets safely? Well, thank government regulations that require quality standards on food that’s sold and that our streets be governed by traffic laws and speed limits.

The only people who benefit from ending net neutrality are greedy ISPs who’ll use repealing Internet protections to make more money for themselves at the expense of every single person reading this.

However, even if this entire article confused you, it really breaks down to this: If you like the Internet exactly how it’s always been since the first time you’ve used it, where every website you visit is accessible and delivered to your screen at the same speed from your ISP as every other website, then you’re a fan of net neutrality – whether you want to believe it or not.

Because, yes, it’s really that simple.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and if you want to help me keep fighting Republican ignorance and the rise of white nationalism, please head over to my Patreon as well.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments