The Federal Communications Commission has established an inbox for public commentary on an open internet. If you want to comment, do it today.
Here’s what I sent:
I am an independent internet music publisher and a public educator. I see the establishment of so-called “fast lanes” as a direct threat to all of my professional activities.
By establishing a paid “fast lane,” smaller web-based services will by definition receive inferior service speeds from the affected network providers. For me as a small content publisher, this is a crushing blow to my ability to distribute music files in mp3 or PDF format. It already takes a significant amount of time for most consumers to download these products. An intentional bottleneck engineered by an ISP will make sharing my content even more difficult.
For independent artists in any medium, net neutrality is an issue of free-speech access to the public. An open internet is driven by what people decide they want to consume. This gives small artists the ability to compete on a more level playing field with others who have more resources. With the exception of illegal activities like child pornography, the infrastructure of the internet should not discriminate based on the content provided or the money backing that content. The infrastructure must be neutral so that content consumers can truly choose.
Politically, net neutrality is also a big deal. What if one political candidate is willing to pay a corporation for fast-lane access for his website, while his opponent does not pay in order to avoid an apparent conflict of interest? Will the speed of internet service tip the scales in an election? The possibility is not unreasonable.
On the education side, the websites and web-based services that are most useful to education are not often the most popular or well-funded ventures. Certainly many of these tools will not qualify for an internet “fast lane.” Should large corporations have the authority to decide which educational content is worthy to be shared at high bandwidth? That sets a dangerous precedent. We have enough revisionist history already; ISPs do not need to be in the business of rewriting the curriculum by making certain pieces of educational content more accessible than others.
The internet today is far from perfect, but an internet that functions as a puppet with corporations holding the strings of content access will become a dystopian nightmare.