Today is a sort of grassroots Internet "Day of Action" related to Net Neutrality.
There has been lots of ink (including my own) spilled about the wonky details of the concept. There has also been a lot of fearmongering about what might happen if, despite massive public outcry, Ajit Pai at the FCC weakens Title II protections for the Internet.
Here's the thing: it's not fearmongering. It's all true.
In America, if you're part of the 83% of the population lucky enough to have decent internet, you likely have the choice of one or two carriers, each of them among the most reviled companies in the country. These companies provide terrible customer service, jack up prices, charge you exorbitant fees, sneak charges into your monthly bill, and even try to prevent cities from creating competition. They maintain their oligopoly power through coordinated lobbying efforts.
Now, the FCC wants to hand these companies more power, essentially saying that they should promise an open internet in their Terms of Service (the agreement you click through to sign up for internet service) rather than have their behavior monitored and regulated, as it currently is. The idea is, presumably, that "unshackling" these well-meaning companies will somehow result in lower prices to the consumer.
Regardless of party affiliation, there's something clearly wrong with that assumption, for these particular companies. This whole mess smacks of the same Things That Are Wrong With America, that I hear from people on both sides of the political spectrum complain about:
- "Crony Capitalism"
- Government in the pocket of Lobbyists
- Some Executive Trampling on my Rights, and
- "Comcast only lowered my price when I told them I would drop my service."
The open Internet conversation is a small version of the broader debate we're having as a nation, and that is important.
Now to go wait on my AT&T technician.