A little bit of background:
To cut a very long and technical story short, every time you connect to Netflix, YouTube, or your high bandwidth website of choice, under existing laws, known as Net Neutrality, your Internet Service Provider is obligated to pass that data along to you at exactly the same speed at which they deliver data from every other website, regardless of size, popularity, or content type — at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
In reality, for the past few years, and at a steadily increasing rate over the last few months, some of America’s biggest ISPs have been secretly limiting the speed at which customers can access data provided by companies with whom they compete.
Following complaints from customers, who proved in a series of experiments that services such as Netflix were being deliberately throttled by the monopoly provider Comcast, Washington lobbyists, hand picked by the very same service providers guilty of breaching Net Neutrality, began to push legislation through which would effectively allow a charge per-megabyte policy to any company with high bandwidth requirements, so that they could gain access to a so-called “fast lane” service — meaning that smaller companies would be relegated to the slow lane, unable to compete with the larger players.
Naturally, the failure or simple inability of the Obama administration to stop this didn’t go down too well with the 99% of ordinary Americans, which this law would effectively relegate to using the crippled, poor cousin of the über expensive second tier internet, which the richest and most powerful corporations in the world would control.
So, two days ago, a group of protestors outside the FCC building in Washington, began an #Occupy-style sit-in — demanding that this blatant attempt by the 1% to take control of the internet be blocked.
Then, today, web hosting provider NeoCities had the sublimely simple yet brilliant idea of showing the people who work at the FCC exactly what a two tier internet would look like — by posting a list of the internal IP addresses assigned to the FCC building, alongside a blog post explaining how other hosting providers could reduce the speed of content delivered to those IP address at something close to that of a circa 1995 dial-up modem.
The idea is, as we speak, taking ahold with other hosting providers around the world. These three threads on reddit alone have, as of 1am UK time, received over 4000 comments, and 12541 up-votes. The story has been picked up by arstechnica, arguably the most respected technology news site among web developers and industry insiders.
One comment notes, “If Google and GoDaddy got in on this it would be over in a day”. Another comment suggests that PornHub might also like to remind members of the FCC how much they cherish their ability to access the internet at speeds reasonable enough to stream the sort of “entertainment content” which is close to their hearts.
Meanwhile in Europe
Over here in the UK, we’re building up to the European Parliament elections in a few days time. One of the fringe interest parties, called UKIP, who have shook up the three main established parties by effectively running on an anti-everything to do with Europe ticket, is largely made-up of rightwing activists, closet racists, and ya-ya’s from the chattering classes; the money is no object types, who think giant corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they feel like doing it, no matter who it hurts.
In a recent debate on the BBC, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage faced questions from Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, on the specifics of what Farage, the ex-City of London financial trader and multimillionaire man of the people, disliked so much about the numerous European Parliament laws which protect consumers, and the environment, by holding large corporations to account.
Lucas specifically mentioned the recent passing of an act in the European Parliament which didn’t get the worldwide press it deserved — which effectively enshrined into law Net Neutrality, which will not only prevent the sort of thing from happening over here which is now taking place in the US, but would also guarantee that Telecom providers can no longer charge customers extra for using their phones outside of the country where they were purchased — effectively abolishing so-called roaming charges.
Farage’s response was to pretend he didn’t hear what Lucas was saying — which wasn’t difficult for him to do given that he was talking over her the whole time.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26865869 – Net neutrality law adopted by European Parliament
DON’T LET THE FCC TALK OVER YOU. Take action. Tell your representatives that a two-tier internet is not an option. Ask them what they are doing to prevent this terrible legislation from being passed.