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Net neutrality or pay-to-view internet?

November 28, 2017

It isn’t as salacious as the sex scandals, but the FCC’s bid to control free access to  information by suspending net neutrality is far more worthy of attention.

For the record, the FCC, or Federal Communications Commission is another one of those semi-autonomous government agencies that are only loosely under the control of Congress.

It effectively controls all forms of communication, as noted in this Wikipedia entry:

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by statute (47 U.S.C. § 151 and 47 U.S.C. § 154) to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband,[4][5] competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security, and modernizing itself.[6] ” (Italics added.)

He who controls information controls the world and that’s exactly what suspending net neutrality will do.

If you are used to opening a web browser and being able to gain access to news and content from every corner of the globe, you don’t want net neutrality.

The Los Angeles Times gives us a look at how this works in other parts of the world in this story.

Theoretically, the result could be similar to cable channel provider packages or an AT&T bundle for the internet.  You would be allowed to buy packages that serve up certain types or brands of content, but no package contains everything, or if it does, it is prohibitively expensive.

Of course, the major ISP’s deny this would ever happen, according to an article by  Forbes contributor Steven Salzberg.

Right. Just like you don’t have to buy a whole package just to get one extra TV channel or sports event now.

And what happens if, like one woman, you forget to or can’t pay your bill?

“Judy” bundled all her TV, Internet and smartphone plans with a single vendor.  It was a good deal, and it saved her money, so she liked it.

Until the time when she was in a severe accident, and wasn’t able to pay her own bills for three months. Some things were on auto-pay, and her Mom saw to it the utilities were paid, but since Judy wasn’t even able to watch TV or  use her phone, Mom didn’t pay the bundle bill.

When Judy got home, she had no phone, no cable TV, and no internet. The service provider had suspended the account for nonpayment.

Judy was able to convince the bundler that it was not her fault, and immediately paid the back bill, so it was just a comparatively ( two-week) short term outage.

What happens to all the people that either simply can’t afford to pay for an all-access internet experience, or have a financial setback, like a layoff?

OK, maybe you think that this is just alarmist, tin hat claptrap.

Maybe so, but consider this.

Politicians know that their one real enemy is knowledge. If the election of 2016 proved nothing else, it proved that having access to competing voices can change things.

One reason that even when they might cringe at what he tweets, no Trump supporter wants him to be unable to tweet, is because it permits them direct access to that competing voice.

What would happen if those people couldn’t afford to view it?

As chaotic, annoying and outright silly as the internet is, would you like it if it became just another bad TV package?

 

From → op-ed

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