It’s safe to say, the future of Internet is being decided right now, in US Congress. You think it’s an exaggeration? A writer’s trick to grab your attention in the all-important first two lines? I assure you, that’s not the truth. Or at least not the whole truth. With the recent vote of House of Representatives subcommittee against the net neutrality, the way we use Internet might be about to change forever.
Let’s imagine two possible futures. In both, it’s year 2020, gallon of gasoline costs $7, the world economy is recovering from the terrible 2015-2016 recession, the health service is in shambles (as it has been for the last 50 years), TV shows went to a whole new level of silly, and people have some really bad haircuts.
In the first future, Internet didn’t change that much. Of course, there are new great websites and services (one of them being StormDriver), but it still comes down to the same things you’ve been doing in World Wide Web for the past ten years. You can check out some websites, socialize, shop, rent a movie, troll a forum, post a comment, play a game. It’s more or less the same.
But in the second future, you go online to discover that the only search engine you can use is Bing. Your internet provider signed an agreement with Microsoft and blocked the competition. While at it, they also made sure you can’t use Google Docs. Every time you go to Gmail, you’re redirected to Office 2018 Live Apps. You want to shop, but you can’t access Amazon – your provider has his own shop he wants you to use instead, filled with adds and promotions of questionable value. You go to Netflix and start to watch a movie but you are immediately notified that your provider will charge you an extra dollar for each gigabyte of high definition video you stream. And no, you can’t play World of Warcraft. Your telecom endorses some silly second life type of game instead.
You’re tired. You compare several Internet providers, because you want to switch, but it’s a real headache, much worse than choosing a mobile operator. This one doesn’t have e-Bay, only his own propriety auction site. The other – charges extra for using online games, but has free YouTube. The third one seems alright, but on a closer look you notice that he blocks your favorite tech forum, because of all the criticism he got there. And did I mention all three have different price per megabyte for each type of content? And all three banned the lolcats?
Yes, the second, lolcat-less future sucks. This is a future, where net neutrality crashed and burned, then got stomped on by greedy telecom companies. In the first future, telecoms own the infrastructure of the Internet, but can’t mess around with what’s coming down the pipes. In the second, they can crack open the pipes on their turf, then add or remove anything they want to.
As you can see, net neutrality is THE most important topic for any Internet user. To see why it’s currently under threat, and how it changed over the last years, be sure to check out the second part of this post.