We ran a quick poll to ask members of our community about Net Neutrality. Although there were those who expected landslide results, that was not the case. The question was posed as: When it comes to Net Neutrality:
- Don't know about it
- For it
- Against it
- Don't care about it
In simple terms, net neutrality is seen as a means of preventing Internet service providers from charging different fees for bandwidth depending on whose sites you visit. For example, if an ISP wanted to offer their own video streaming services, they could decrease the bandwidth provided when their customers use third-party streaming services and increase the bandwidth for their own. This would give their video service much better performance, and thus an advantage over their competitors. More so, the service provider could offer to improve the performance of the third-party service by charging their customers a fee to increase the bandwidth. Even though some say this is simply how capitalism and business work, others say that, because of limited options, it would force people to pay what seems like extortion fees to get equal services.
The thought is that, among other things, net neutrality rules prevent service providers from being able to extort their members or to throttle their competitors unfairly. It is believed by many that the removal of the net neutrality rules could hurt consumers as well as Internet businesses such as Netflix. For those who believe service providers will do what is right for their customers, consider the examples that have already happened. For example, Verizon has already been accused of throttling NetFlix. Despite the fact this might have been an "optimization test," the result was that users were capped.
Blocking, throttling, and the use of paid prioritization are the three areas that net neutrality works to prevent. In addition to Verizon being accused of capping, Comcast has been accused of blocking. In one case, it was questioned whether Comcast blocking HBO Go on Sony consoles would be a violation of net neutrality.
So how did our audience vote? The results were:
As expected, the "for it" answer did take the majority of the votes; however,
Net neutrality is not a simple topic and many people are polarized by the topic. The FCC was expected to make a decision this week on whether the rules should be overturned. Due to the vast number of comments regarding the topic, the FCC moved the date out two weeks (to August 30th) to allow more time to review the feedback. In the FCC filing, they indicate that of the millions of comments on the topic, they believe that over 7 million were fraudulent. I believe that the decisions around net neutrality could impact Internet services for most people. If the net neutrality rules go away, the popular belief is that there will be a negative impact for many consumers from higher fees, caps, or throttling.
As to our communities, here are a few comments they had on the topic:
- ISPs should limit themselves to providing us Internet access; we decide where to go and what to do with it.
- This is a stupid question. The only people who wouldn't be for this either don't know what it is or stand to get rich from moving away from it.
- We shouldn't be giving corporate giants the ability to throttle everyone else's exposure if they can't afford it on such a huge scale.
- "net neutrality" is a misnomer.
- I don’t need censorship. Give me information and not a blind eye to the world around me.
- It's ridiculous we are even having this debate. But people's greed, I guess, is a tough adversary.
- Net neutrality assumes that man is basically good - WRONG.
- The backbone of the Internet is vital to the public good. It should be part of the commons, not privatized for profit.
- F*** anyone who’s against saving net neutrality.
- Net neutrality is just a covert attempt by the government to control the Internet.
- Anyone who doesn't want to spread misinformation and then make money from should rightly be in favor of net neutrality. But, many people blindly follow thieves and are as such often found as against their own interests.
- Without net neutrality, private sites and projects could lose the ability to compete with incumbents.
- Big brother again
- W/o net neutrality, any greedy and morally onerous ISP has free reign to force its subscribers to use its own services as opposed to the services of their competitors.
- For it, but I definitely think some content needs to be blocked -- like child pornography. Period.
- Net neutrality is incredibly important for continued freedom of expression, protection of freedom of speech, and open access to a free market.
- Can you speak Chinese?
Okay, I'm not sure how that last comment fits with the topic, but it was one of over a hundred related to the single poll question.
If you are developing or using Web sites, net neutrality is a topic worth watching. Although it won’t necessarily directly impact your coding, it could impact your usage of the Web as well as how your solutions perform in the future. It will be interesting to see what happens after August 30th in the US and then see how that impacts other countries as well.