The Net As We Know It
Net Neutrality might
be a term that you have been hearing a lot about lately. But what does it
really mean and how does it affect you? Well, simply put, Net Neutrality is the
idea that all internet service providers, or ISPs, need to treat all web searches
and website visits the same. They can charge more money for a faster internet
as a whole, but they can’t speed up or slow down individual websites.
“Well that’s all well and good,” you might be thinking, “but how does
it affect me?” Picture a normal day of internet usage. You might wake up and
check your selfie for how many likes you got last night, than go over to
youtube and look at your favorite bands new song. At school, you work on your
research project using Google and skype with a climate scientist in brazil for
research. Than when you get home, you check your facebook feed and go to bed You can do all of
this because of your unrestricted connection to the internet.
But if Net Neutrality went away, this would be a very
different story. On snapchat, you can only see photos and cant see likes or
comments. When you go onto youtube, your connection to the video is slowed
because your ISP is promoting the rival band. Once you get to school, you cant
log in to Google but can use bing with no issues. And skype is charging you
every minute you are connected and speaking. But the worst is when you get
home. Your ISP will let you post on facebook but won’t let you read other
peoples posts. This is a very possible future if Net Neutrality is repealed.
The repeal of Net
Neutrality will forever change the way the internet is used. Instead of being
used as a free and open way to communicate, learn, and trade it will become a
source of revenue for ISPs and ISPs only.
As a student,
developer, and internet user, my life revolves around the internet. An
inescapable part of living in the 21st century is the internet. Our lives will
change if all this went away.
present day middle school student. The average new york middle schooler will
complete more than 50 Google searches in just one day (accounting for
irrelevant searches, redirected, ETC). Working online would be much harder if
we had to pay for each website and video we saw. Many schools are using the G
suite of apps to take notes, share information, and control internet access.
However many ISPs own their own search engines through other sub-companies.
ISPs are very sneaky about how they collect and use information gathered from
their search engines.
Verizon, a popular New York State ISP, owns Yahoo Inc.
The Yahoo terms of service state that “…Yahoo collects and stores information
from user account registration and site usage. We generally refer to the
information that we collect in connection with site usage as ‘user log data’.
Yahoo will de-identify search user log data within 18 months of collection.
Some Logs are retained for a longer period in order to power innovative product
development, provide personalized and customized services, and better enable
our security systems to detect and defend against fraudulent activity. …Some
data collected is used customize interest-based advertising”
Let’s break this down. Yahoo says that they can
collect any data related to your browsing history, website visits, and general
internet traffic. They store your browsing data in a file with your account
information for 18 months before it is deleted. Once 18 months is up, your
website views are deleted. However, all other data is then sent to advertisers
for analysis. Yahoo can then display these targeted ads to you. The sneaky part
comes in when you dig a little deeper. Yahoo is allowed to publicly sell your
browsing history along with your name and computer information to anyone
willing to pay.
“Big deal,” you might be thinking “I just won’t use
Yahoo.” Well, it’s not that easy. When net neutrality goes away, ISPs can
restrict access to a website. As long as version tells its users that It is
redirecting all Google traffic to Yahoo, it will be okay for this to happen.
Practices like this will become the new normal for internet users.
Now let’s talk about software. Even the smallest, most
basic apps need an internet connection to send and receive data. Without net
neutrality, tech startups will need to pay to use stay listed and to use
internet bandwidth. This will boost big apps even higher but destroy many other
apps. The popular website Snapdrop.net was forced to shut down because they
could not keep their bandwidth. They would need to pay a few thousand dollars
each year to keep their FTP services running. Bigger companies like Google can
come in and take Snapdrop’s customers. Because Snapdrop is a free service, it
would be impossible for them to pay to stay listed. So they are effectively
removed from the public eye.
Now think about how you use the internet in your free
time. You most likely come home and watch some youtube videos, check your
email, read the news, and look up a place to go for dinner. Without net
neutrality, ISPs will be able to offer packages to users. MEO, A Portugal ISP,
has divided internet use into sub packages. Portugal has not had net neutrality
since 2013. Because of this, MEO can
divide their services however they want. To use a MEO plan, you must first buy
a internet line. A basic internet line is $15 per month. However, this line does
not contain any services other than the MEO website. To access any other
service, you must pay for that portion of the internet. Here is a price table
from the MEO website:
Search Engines: $5
National News: $5
International News: $10
Game Websites: $5
Game Servers: $5
Video Streaming: $10
Social Media: $5
Audio Streaming: $10
Shopping Websites: $10
All of these prices are monthly. So for low quality, unlocked content,
you are going to pay $80 each month! For a high-quality internet with lagless
streaming, you may be paying upwards of $180 EACH MONTH! At that rate, you
would be paying $2160 for full internet each year before taxes! This is a
possible future for the United States if net neutrality goes away.
However, there is some
good news. Verizon, AT&T, T Mobile, Google Project Fi and Project Fiber
have pledged that they will not be throttling any users data for the next 5
years. A Congressional review act, or CRA, has been passed. The CRA will allow
for Congress to bring back net neutrality if they get enough votes. But how can
you help? You can donate to campaigns
like battleforthenet.com who are raising awareness and running rallies against
the FCC. You can also call or email your senator to request them to vote for
net neutrality in the CRA. Most importantly, you can just get your voice out
there and tell the FCC that you are displeased with the repeal of net
neutrality. Let’s end this today!