Flash forward 50 years.
You are sitting with your grandchildren,
telling them about your golden years. In the middle of your spiel, they ask you what the Internet used to be like.
You turn and say, “You know, before the days of Internet Service Providers charging
individuals more for ‘preferred service,’ the Internet was all right.”
Sound scary? If companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast get their way, the Internet we know and love could be a thing of the past.
Welcome to the sneaky issue of Net neutrality that is slowly creeping onto the national political radar. The Internet, as it is today, essentially treats every bit of data equally. Whether it is someone checking Facebook.com or George W. Bush e-mailing Donald Rumsfeld, the data is treated exactly the same.
Certain members of Congress and Internet
Service Providers wish to change all of that.
They want the Internet to adopt a sort of class system where ISPs are gatekeepers, letting the highest bidders ride first class on the information superhighway.
Instead of simply moving the data, ISPs get to hand-pick what moves quickly and presumably would give favor to its own services and those services of wealthy parties that can afford it.
Imagine calling your buddy’s cell phone only to be told that someone in a higher tier is making a phone call at this moment and your call would have to wait.
They figure since they own the road, they get to dictate the speed limits.
For example, Verizon could block all Comcast-related sites. Or if a celebrity gets on AT&T’s bad side, it can block sites that mention the celebrity’s name.
Part of what makes the Internet so great is that it is a completely level playing field. Someone can read musings on a blog just as easily as they can read the front page of the “New York Times.”
Thus, the Internet is the most democratic
tool any democracy can ask for. Taking the Internet out of the hands of the users creates just another corrupt and backward bureaucracy where a Big Brother-like body gets to choose what is best for us.
ISPs have even set up several fake grassroots (or “Astroturf”) movements with the sole purpose of misinforming voters.
Meaning, their Web site that urges political action appears to be for net neutrality, but the actual policies that the site supports would benefit the ISPs.
Feeling helpless? Lucky for us, it’s Election Day – the best chance of the year to let the government know we are pissed off.
If we enjoy the broadband connection speed, then we can’t support the congressmen that are in the back pocket of ISPs.
In the heated Senate race between Democratic candidate Bob Casey and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., neither has taken a firm stance either for or against Net neutrality, but a few thousand phone calls could probably fix that.
In New Jersey’s race, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, favors Net neutrality, with no word from his opponent Tom Kean.
Neither Delaware candidates have spoken out either way.
American youth get a bad rap for spending too much time on the computer, and for not voting. Prove everyone one wrong, and let’s do it today.
Sean Blanda can be reached at