The best explanation of why you should care about net neutrality

Sen. Al Franken has tried mightily to get the nation — and the nation’s politicians — alarmed about the demise of net neutrality. For the most part, it’s fallen on deaf ears because the nation doesn’t really get technology and the politicians do get telecommunications money to influence public policy.

The public has been nothing but sleepy in response.

Nonetheless, Vi Hart today provides the best explanation of the issue ever produced for those still interested in understanding it, including how the pols and business have gamed the system.

What happens when net neutrality is dead? Ron Fournier opines in the National Journal that it could spark a “tech age political revolution.”

“The internet providers lost the battle and won the war,” said a former Obama administration official who refused to be identified while criticizing the administration. “They’ve got their hooks into most members of Congress and both major parties.” Said another: “Godspeed to the American consumer. We could be screwed and not know until it’s too late.”

If net neutrality dies and the internet “rails” suddenly become more expensive and less reliable via monopolies, the protests will be loud. Cheap, easy access to information, entertainment and e-commerce are as engrained in modern American life as the telegraph and trains had become in early 20th century. Take that away, and the elites will pay.

“The question that cuts across the decades,” Fourier writes, “is whether American social institutions – including leaders of government, the businesses community and, yes, the media – are smart enough and courageous enough to respond.”

  • “The public has been nothing but sleepy in response.”

    What do you want us to do? Nobody listens to us anyway. “They’ve got their hooks into most members of Congress and both major parties.” The FCC and the cable industries have been bedfellows for decades. They get to do whatever they want.

    • David

      Exactly – the politicians do what they want. They want to be reelected. The corporations trying to merge pay for those reelec- err sorry, they lend their expertise.

  • Silver lining: Once they ruin the internet, musicians can make a living selling physical media again.

  • davidz

    “is whether American social institutions … are smart enough and courageous enough to respond.”

    Doomed, we are. This is a fairly technical issue that doesn’t even get good coverage in the technology press. Expecting to get sufficient interest from the general public is a fool’s errand. Unless their bread & circuses are threatened, and since Netflix has signed into the anti- camp now, that’s less likely now than it used to be.

    [ Feeling more cynical than usual today about politics & technology. ]

    • joetron2030

      I wouldn’t consider what Netflix did as falling into the “anti-” camp. Netflix had to make a business decision in the short-term on behalf of their subscribers. Due to the lack of knowledge by the general public on how the business and technical side of the Internet works, really, they had no choice.

      Even if they could have rallied their subscribers against Comcast, I doubt there are enough Comcast subscribers who are also Netflix users to have made a difference to Comcast.

      This piece on The Verge was an interesting read about the timing of the deal between Comcast and Netflix. It’s worth a read to gain some additional info and insight in to the possible “why”s.

  • joetron2030

    Also, ISPs are allegedly not playing fairly either. And this is coming from one of the tier 1 network providers.