Net Neutrality Protests Are Taking Aim At The FCC's "Solution" In A City Near You
On Thursday, a slew of demonstrations across the U.S. are taking place in protest of the FCC's "hybrid" solution to net neutrality. Mirroring Hungary's own protest against Internet tax, crowds will gather in over a dozen cities, as well as outside the White House, holding digital devices (or candles or flashlights) over their heads to symbolize "shining light" on the corruption in the federal government.
The impasse over regulating the internet and how much sway cable companies have over internet speeds might end with the "hybrid" proposal — which, though isn't yet conclusive, would increase the FCC's ability to regulate broadband and allow cable providers an avenue to charge consumers more money for faster internet speeds
The chairman of the FCC, probably tech geeks' Most Wanted Man at the moment, is Tom Wheeler. Gautham Nagesh at the Wall Street Journal reported that Wheeler's new solution will divvy up broadband into two different services:
[A] retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end one, in which broadband providers serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content.
The FCC would then classify the back-end service as a common carrier, giving the agency the ability to police any deals between content companies and broadband providers.
However, Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future — the group organizing the protests — likened the FCC's solution to a sham, rather than a compromise. In a statement, Greer said:
What President Obama’s FCC chair is reportedly pushing is not a compromise, it’s a sham. Nearly four million internet users submitted comments to the FCC against having fast and slow lanes on the internet, but this proposal explicitly opens the door for them. Worse, it’s based in overly complicated and untested legal theories that are likely to fail in court.
If the battle for net neutrality seems really confusing, here's the TL;DR version for you: Evil cable companies want to charge you more money to use websites that use up a lot of bandwidth (like Netflix), but Internet activists say that it sets up a two-tiered Internet that goes against the concept of treating all internet data equally. Basically, you'd think twice before spending the night binge watching Gilmore Girls in your pajamas, because your Internet bill will go up.
And if that still doesn't really make sense to you, take it from John Oliver, who pointed out how serious an issue this is that even big corporations like Google, Facebook and Amazon have joined forces with (human) Internet activists to push for net neutrality:
It's not just anti-corporate hippies who think that abandoning net neutrality is a bad idea... What's being proposed is so egregious that activists and corporations have been forced onto the same side. That's basically Lex Luthor knocking on Superman's apartment door, going, 'Listen, I know we have our differences, but we have got to get rid of that asshole in apartment 3B.'
Humor aside, that's a somber indication of how awful a two-tiered Internet is going to be for everyone, people and corporation alike — except for those darn cable companies, who are the only ones who stand to benefit from it (see: big, juicy profits). So if you live in one of these cities where the protests are taking place, it might be worth it to skip Happy Hour today.
Images: Getty Images (3)