Save net neutrality is my current drum beat. To me, all of the values inherent in this battle right now are the ones that drive many of our favorite comics heroes.
Captain America has traditionally stood for the values of honesty and truth. Iron Man stands as a hero ensconced in the free market and in money making. Black Widow stands for protecting information from dangerous spies. The Avengers stand against that which seeks to undermine our basic freedoms. This is our time to be Avengers.
What is Net Neutrality?
Before going further, let’s define net neutrality. Every day, we send information over the internet, just like this post you’re reading. If you imagine the internet as a literal highway with cars, some information is a smart car taking up very little space and some are big honkin’ trucks.
The GeekMom blog is pretty much a compact car like a Honda Civic. Netflix is sort of like one of those oversized flatbeds carrying a tiny house around. Currently, both of us have the same access to the internet same as both vehicles do to the highway. This is the idea of the open internet, anyone can get on or off at the same rate.
Is Net Neutrality Good?
Now, if the repeal of net neutrality laws occurs, this changes a lot of things. The companies that run the highway, like AT&T or Comcast or Verizon, can decide to charge for the amount of space the company takes up on the highway. These internet service providers, also called ISPs, want access to information and control of who can share it
Netflix and Hulu, for example, take up a ton of space as wide loads. This means that a company can charge them more for using the internet which they will likely pass on to us. OK, that’s bad, but it’s not super bad.
Until you think about all of the different ways they can make using the internet difficult. You know how you don’t like when a website is slow to load so you leave it? If Comcast or Verizon want to make a site slow, they’ll have that power, called “throttling.” In other words, they’ll be able to stop websites from giving out information if they don’t pay the toll.
Proposed FCC internet changes would cause us to lose our internet freedom.
Net Neutrality and Captain America
Freedom of speech is one of the main arguments for net neutrality. Captain America stands as a beacon of the ideals of freedom in America (and no, we are NOT going to talk about the recent Hydra thing because we’re just not).
If you’re reading this post, you believe that the internet is a place to share ideas, to talk about ideas, and to assemble for these things. Those are the basic tenets of the First Amendment: assembly, speech, and religion. Net neutrality protects these on the internet. Internet freedom is the epitome of everything we believe Captain America stands for.
If you’re an older geek, you remember the times before Facebook or Twitter, possibly you’re old enough to remember LiveJournal and AOL internet chat rooms. Those were the days before we could connect and meet each other. Those were the days of nerd isolation and getting dumped in a trash can in the lunchroom (yes it happened, no we don’t need to revisit it). The modern incarnation of the internet can do harm with cyberbullying, that’s for sure. However, think of all the people it’s connected.
Think of the Arab Spring. Think of the Occupy Movement. Think of Black Lives Matter Movement. Hell, think about the ways in which we nerds now play video games online with one another like Halo or Call of Duty or Super Smash Brothers. All of these are at risk with net neutrality.
Captain America would be so very disappointed in all of us. So very disappointed.
Net Neutrality and Tony Stark
Another major problem associated with repealing net neutrality is that it stifles small businesses and can stagnate innovation. Internet neutrality provides small businesses the same tools as large businesses.
While the large businesses may have better access to financial resources to help use the internet better, they are still getting the same speed and usages as the small business. For example, if you’ve noticed changes in some of our posts here at GeekMom, it’s because we’ve started incorporating formatting changes to help search engines help you find our posts. Many small businesses use the same tools to help people find their product.
At the same time, CNN and Entertainment Weekly are going to be using those same strategies. While they may be easier to find sometimes, they won’t always be easier. This means that GeekMom and Entertainment Weekly have equal opportunities for you to read our posts.
Repealing net neutrality means that the broadband providers can do things to make this harder for us, and for you. For example, search engines love speedy sites. If broadband carriers choose to throttle websites and slow down their speed, we might not be a website you find in a search. We could be making all the right choices to help the search engines like us, but if we can’t pay for a speedier connection, then we won’t be found easily.
This is the idea of the pay-to-play economic factor. If a start up company can’t pay for quick connections, then they’re not going to be able to reach potential new customers easily. This stifles innovation and stagnates our economy.
Tony Stark would be flipping out right about now.
Net Neutrality and Black Widow
Arguments for net neutrality center on individuals, particularly the things people can understand easily. However, net neutrality’s repeal puts our personal information at risk. Cybersecurity and information security seem like these really hard to understand technical things. I totally get that. I was there a year ago.
Here’s the deal: you know all those scary breaches like Equifax and the UK’s National Health System? Those were all because of how gates got crashed. The technical jargon is the idea that we need to protect information using firewalls and passwords and encryption. How many people really use a strong password on every account? Right, not nearly as many as should.
So, the dangers lie in the fact that if you’re trusting only a few companies to control the flow of information, hackers have fewer people they need to target. Moreover, if only larger vehicles drive on the highway because they’re the only ones who can afford it, then you’re lowering the number of targets. By lessening the number of entryways and drivers, the bad guys have fewer targets to exploit and easier access to your information
This means that our information is more open to the dark web and to being sold for lots and lots of money.
Even Black Widow can’t help us with this, and she’s one of the top spies.
Be an Avenger: Save Net Neutrality
If you’ve ever wanted to be an Avenger, now’s the time. Send out calls for action under the Twitter hashtag #savenetneutrality or comment here (fill in 17-108 for the “Proceeding” field).
Be Captain America and fight for freedom.
Be Tony Stark and fight for free markets.
Be Black Widow and fight to protect information.