Net neutrality is an issue that I tended to shy away from due to how complex the technological aspect of it all seems to be. While the logistics of it is something I still do not fully understand the following articles made it easier to process what exactly is going on.
Visualizing the process as a type of highway – with the division being those who can pay more being on a superhighway and those who can’t going through traffic – was introduced through a NY Daily News article titled “Gonzalez: FCC flip-flop could turn the internet into the superhighway of the rich”. Within the piece former FCC commissioner Michael Copps said, “This portends a future Internet where the 1% get to drive on the fast lane and the 99% are left in the slow lane.” The most interesting part of this statement to me was how it spoke volumes of how divisible every aspect of American culture has seemingly become. From the Internet to our taxes to availability of education there is such a significant push to create systems where the wealthy want to do nothing but accumulate wealth at the expense of those less fortunate, but I digress.
Net neutrality needs to be protected, or it spells disaster for many independent news outlets. Part of the appeal of indy media is how relatively simple it is for something to start one up. An internet signal and a domain name are all it takes to publish one’s thoughts to as wide of an audience as it so desires. However, if the net neutrality laws were to be destroyed, traffic to these sites would be practically non-existent. Big media companies like Amazon, Netflix, YouTube would be able to afford steep internet access fees, while the average website owner might not be able to risk such an investment. Therefore slow internet speeds could cause their downfall as consumers will likely grow tired of the inferior quality.
From BillMoyers.com “Why Independent Artists Should Care About Net Neutrality” Astra Taylor discusses the deception behind the movement, “Artists have long been told that these companies would help liberate them from the grip of the old media system. Unfortunately, the leading tech firms increasingly resemble the legacy media many thought they would inevitably overthrow.”
And she’s right. These once basic, start-up companies are now carbon copies of legacy media outlets in that revenue is the ultimate motivation. Getting rid of net neutrality would only help them further generate profit from increased traffic as consumers turn away from independent sources, to the point where there are no other options to turn to.
Taylor also writes:
Unlike the old days when different mediums had discrete distribution channels, we are now utterly dependent on one network for everything: we read books and articles, watch television and films and listen to music online, just as we study, work and socialize there. The network underpinning all of this must be neutral and nondiscriminatory if we are to make good on the remarkable democratic potential of the Internet.
We live in a vastly different era than anyone has ever seen before. In such a globalized society there are several different platforms for entertainment making it harder for independent outlets to break into their specific market. Getting rid of net neutrality rules would make this process even more difficult to the point where we could see very little growth in terms of indy news media. In a news world where mainstream media markets more often than not sound the same based on their political leaning, I fear the reality of not having any alternate outlets.