If you log onto your tumblr dashboard today, you might notice what looks like a bit of a problem. All the graphics on the page are replaced by those “please wait” spinny things, giving the impression you’re stuck with a slow connection. But it’s just the latest in a series of events, pranks and publicity stunts designed to make people aware of the looming threat to what’s known as Net Neutrality.
Right now, all Internet data are transmitted at the same speed. You get articles and graphics for this site at the same speed you’d get them for Time.com, Amazon, or ElbowsDeepInAsianGirls.tv (Calm down, Michael Davis, I made that one up… I hope) But if Net Neutrality is shot down, ISPs will gain the ability to offer data “fast lanes” on the information superhighway to companies, on which their data will sail at great speed to the user, while sites who do not pay such premium will see their sites lag at slower “normal” speeds.
The problem is, we won’t actually see the “fast lane” be any faster, it’ll be more a case of the “normal” lane being throttled. just as, oh, let’s say “certain companies” doing that to sites like Netflix.
The FCC is currently mulling over the idea of making this premium bandwidth an official thing, and tech-savvy Internet users have been doing everything they can to show the average users why this would be a calamity. John Oliver’s recent monologue on the issue created such a response it actually brought the FCC’s website down.
The tumblr site offers a link to BattleForTheNet.com, which offers users the option to either have an email sent in their name to their congressperson, or will automatically connect you via phone to your representative’s office. The response on this issue has been strong, but millions people shouting is not always as loud as the sound of wallets opening.
The verbiage on this issue has gotten quite dramatic, and yr. obt. svt. tries to refrain from hyperbole unless I’m sure I can a laugh out of it. But it is very fair to say that if ISPs gain the right to charge companies for the right to get their data delivered, it will absolutely make it harder to get a new website into the eyes of new viewers, and make creating a new site so much more expensive. Part of the wonder of the Web is it makes everybody equally capable of building a site that can reach the world, at the same speed as any other. The loss of Net Neutrality will take that away.
This is quite important.