Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality

by Matt Forcey

There’s been a lot of news the past few weeks about the brewing battle over “Net Neutrality”, with big telco (Verizon and AT&T) lining up on one side of the firewall, and Internet-focused tech companies like Amazon, Vonage, and EBay on the other.  The drama has included some interesting and unexpected back-room deal making involving Google, Verizon, the FCC, and even some folks in Congress.  Now I know what you’re probably thinking: One, what the hell is net neutrality?  Two, why is this becoming such a big issue?  Three, why is Google, whose chivalrous corporate motto is “Do No Evil”, working with members of Congress for fuck’s sake?

Net neutrality is basically a commitment, by service providers, that all internet traffic be treated equally, with no special preference given to any user or content provider (e.g. Macy’s can’t pay your Internet provider extra money to make sure you get a better connection to their website than you do when visiting Bloomingdale’s site).  This has been the law-of-the-land for over a decade.  But in April of this year, a Federal court ruled that the FCC has no regulatory authority over internet service providers (ISPs).  The obvious concern from those in favor of an open Internet is that without oversight, ISPs can begin shaping access to and availability of content to their benefit and the benefit of the highest bidder, thus eliminating the current meritocracy by which websites acquire traffic based on the popularity of their offerings.

The chart below, brought to us by the talented graphic designers at OnlineMBA.org highlights fifteen facts about the issue and illustrates why one U.S. Senator calls net neutrality, “the First Amendment issue of our time.”

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