Today, we are writing about Net Neutrality. We’re not writing about this because it’s a very current, hot topic these days and we’re trying to ride some popularity wave. Far from it. And we’re not writing about it because it’s relevant to our industry as a whole and the very foundation of our business, although that is inevitably true. And before we jump in with our reasons why we care to write about it, let’s just preface by saying we always steer clear of mixing business with politics—unless you want us to build you a site dedicated to man-buns, in which case we may need to reconsider our stance, but this one deserves our attention.
“…majority of internet users—regardless of their political beliefs—are in favor of keeping the internet free…”
On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether to reverse Net Neutrality rules that protect our free and open internet. This is huge. If the vote favors rolling back these protections, the internet will no longer be a place where ideas flourish, information is exchanged, and social life thrives. Or at least, not without a cost. Net neutrality protections were put in place to keep the internet an even playing field, where all internet users (generally speaking) have equal access that can not be controlled by the service provider. Without these protections, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, can consolidate power to control the who, what, when, where and why of internet access. Despite the fact that majority of internet users—regardless of their political beliefs—are in favor of keeping the internet free, our current administration is eager to roll back these Obama-era protections for reasons that don’t seem to favor anyone except for big business. The current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a former attorney for (and self-proclaimed “puppet” of) Verizon; just to give you an idea of who is leading the charge on dismantling internet freedom.
Without Net Neutrality, cable companies are free to set up a tiered system of internet access, where users will have to pay higher premiums to access what lives within these various tiers. This allows big business to consolidate their power and essentially form a monopoly on how people access the internet as well as how things get on the internet in the first place. In comparison to what we have now, where you might argue that in order to access the internet one must pay for wireless connection (which is true) this is not only a matter of paying to access, but also paying for exposure. With this new monopolized, tiered system of internet, ISP’s will be able to demand higher premiums from small business, independent artists, film-makers, musicians, etc. who utilize the vast reach of the free and open internet as the foundation for their brand presence and growth.
“The internet was created by the people and for the people. It has not grown and thrived to become the very basis of our social fabric because corporate entities sliced and diced it up for their own grabs at power and profit.”
With the “lower tiers,” being undoubtedly slower, it would be nearly impossible to reach certain sites, and keep internet users within various lanes of access based on what they can afford to pay. We’ll see little to no accountability or transparency for things like censorship, blocking of websites, apps, and services. What it really comes down to is not a matter of whether ISP’s should have a tighter grip on how they provide service, but rather continuous corporate greed and (quite literally) class warfare, with government (in the pockets of big business) seeking to make working people as desperate as possible. The internet was created by the people and for the people. It has not grown and thrived to become the very basis of our social fabric because corporate entities sliced and diced it up for their own grabs at power and profit.
Of course, this is the last thing anyone wants to focus on with the holidays right around the corner. But that’s precisely WHY the matter deserves swift and sharp attention. The vote is scheduled for 11 days before Christmas in a strategic move to sneak this through the legislative process. After all, every American knows the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a sacred time. It’s a time to indulge in the blissful nostalgia of snowy-village pastiche. It’s a time for hot chocolate, fluffy blankets, fireplaces and perhaps most importantly, some major sweatpantsing. It’s a time to scramble like mad to find the best deals, sales, curate the best holiday shopping list, etc. Many enjoy the festivities of holiday parties and ice-skating, or adorning their homes with wreaths, lights, and elaborate front yard displays. It’s the only time of the year when families can cuddle up to watch Dad’s favorite childhood Christmas movies (you’ll shoot your eye out!) and shamelessly sing along to the Christmas classics (and no, we’re not talking about Mariah Carey, but hey, if that’s what does it for you…) The point is, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, Damn it! And no one wants, nor has the time, to worry about their internet freedom.
“…none of the work we do would be possible without a free and open internet.”
Here at Sleepless Media, we are super stoked about a lot of really great things happening in the world. We are grateful for our awesome clients who keep us busy in business. We’re grateful for all we’ve learned and all we continue to learn every day. We’re grateful to have such a bad-ass team of designers, developers, and Nick (we’re not really sure what he does around here, besides push-ups, but we’re grateful for him anyway). You see, at the very center of our gratitude lies the understanding that none of the work we do would be possible without a free and open internet. We’ve done sites for huge organizations, and brands as small as individual people striving to blend their passion with their livelihood. We value all of our customers and always look forward to working with unique brands, helping to shape their presence in the digital and virtual world.
We encourage you to pay attention to the ways our current understanding and utilizing of media can and will fundamentally change without these protections. Get in touch with your local legislature and let them know you have a voice; check out Battle for the Net or the Free Press Action Fund to find out more.
Let’s approach 2018 with the spirit of gratitude for all that we are, all that we have, and all that remains free, so we may never see the day when the internet becomes another invisible tentacle of corporate power and greed.
Note: The background image used for this post was taken from a basic google search of “Net Neutrality.” It is the main image for another article about net neutrality. This is how the internet works: users share and generate content, and knowledge and information grows. Awwwww yeah.