Net Neutrality is important

Net neutrality is important. If you aren’t familiar with the term, let CGP Grey explain:

In short, net neutrality promises protection from Internet service providers slowing traffic down based on content or source.

This morning, the President issued a statement urging the FCC to consider Internet access as a public utility, which would forbid companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from creating “fast lanes” on the Internet.

While the FCC boss has a questionable background, thankfully, Congress isn’t in charge of this issue. This tweet from Senator Ted Cruz has been making the rounds today:

The glaring issue I have with this tweet aside, Cruz’s misguided view of net neutrality scares the shit out of me because he’s not the only who holds it, ironically.

Here’s the thing: I make my living on the Internet. My startup exists solely on the Internet. I work as a freelancer on the Internet. I’ve written on this site for six years, and in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not a print magazine.

In a world without the protections of net neutrality, Comcast could demand more money from our podcast host for our audio files to cross their network. If our host refused, my podcast downloads could be slow for Comcast customers, but if they paid the ransom, they would have to charge their customers more, taking a bigger bite out of Relay FM’s budget each month.

In a world without the protections of net neutrality, Comcast could read this blog post and make my site unreachable. Likewise, Verizon could read this one and make my site slower than Daring Fireball for their LTE customers.

But that side work is only a third of my income. I have a day job at an agency where we design and develop websites for businesses, schools and organizations. If our hosting partner were unable to cut a deal with AT&T, U-Verse customers could have longer page load times on our sites, which would upset our clients.

Here’s the thing: I’m not special for making my living online. The Internet has allowed countless businesses to blossom, creating an untold number of jobs. These companies provide goods and services for millions of people, and not just in America.

Allowing a handful of the most powerful companies on the planet to control how information flows on the Internet is reckless at best. Considering ISPs spent $42 million from January to July this year on lobbying, reckless may be the wrong word.

Evil may be a better choice.