Donald Trump’s first nine days have been – for lack of a more comprehensive term – “challenging.” The immigration ban has elicited a variety of responses from all corners of the globe and while the executive order might have the world’s attention for now, dozens of other complications have cropped back up, including the new administration’s stark opposition to the concept of net neutrality.
It’s a simple idea often defined as the “golden rule” of the internet: all sites should be treated equally, with access to the same bandwidth as every other site, regardless of the service provider with which a customer has a contract (here’s a handy explanation). And as these service providers begin to buy media platforms that produce programming or curate content, issues are beginning to arise.
While net neutrality forces the internet to remain an even playing field, critics claim the current system stifles innovation and provides yet another arena for the federal to government to do its “overreach” tap and dance. Mr. Trump is an outspoken adversary of net neutrality, a stance that was reaffirmed last week when he tabbed Ajit Pai to head up the FCC.
The bottom line, however, is the end of net neutrality would be disastrous. Because most Americans have almost no choice in service provider, the loss of the equal access mandate would mean massive, multimedia conglomerates like Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T would have nothing stopping them from slowing out or completely blacking out competitive sites and content. Prices would continue to rise, choices would narrow, and the consumer would be get the short end of the stick.
There are a panoply of issues that demand to be discussed in the world today, and unfortunately net neutrality is still one of them – but it shouldn’t be, at least not for long. Educate yourself. Write to your representatives at all levels of government. Demand that they this from becoming a larger problem than it already is so we can get back to focusing on the bevy of problems we already face.