So it seems that everyone (even Obama) is talking about Net Neutrality at the moment and the future of the internet.
It’s strange to think of the internet as a new and evolving concept that we’re still trying to understand and create laws around. For most of us, the internet is an absolute necessity for both communications and for work. When something appears to jeopardise or change the way it’s being used then, people panic.
Stop panicking guys! Here’s a run down of what net neutrality is and how it might effect you.
Coined in 2003 by Professor Tim Wu, net neutrality is the concept that all websites across all devices should be treated equally, not discriminating against content, data use, platform type etc. That means if your friend is making you watch terrible video clips and you decide to browse ‘food on my dog‘ instead, your websites will be given the same priority to reach you.
The issue has become topical of late after Verizon Communications won a ruling over the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and ended the 2010 ‘Open Internet Order‘. It’s in the best interest for cable companies for restrictions that prohibit them tampering with legal internet content to end as they obviously have to pay more for companies like Netflix to go through their cables.
So what does it mean for us? Well for those in the US, if the FCC decides to allow the ‘internet fast lane’, ISPs could start charging fees to prioritise content meaning all websites not playing could become slower to load. If, for example, you had a small start up business, you might find your big corporate competition swallowing up all of your customers who don’t have the patience for your content to load.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this problem is restricted to the US either… Remember when Netflix became more expensive? Although the European Parliament have ‘restricted ISPs from charging services for faster network access’ (BBC), it could still effect the way we browse and pay for our content. Say hello to larger subscription costs from Amazon, Blink Box, Sky Go…
Will this be a new dawn for the internet? Will websites suddenly be forced down our necks? Is our data safe? Let’s hope so.