To start off, this post has nothing to do with desserts, drinks, confections, or any of the other traditional fare for us. At the same time, it has EVERYTHING to do with those, and with everything else you access online. You see, monopolistic telecom providers have decided that they need to make MORE money from the internet, and are spending tens of millions of dollars to convince OUR lawmakers that they should be allowed to. They want to do this by charging publishers money to have their content load faster, and also by establishing a type of “toll lane”, where users could pay more for faster access to high-traffic sites like Facebook of YouTube.
So how does this affect you, the average internet user? For starters, let’s lay out the facts. The UN has declared internet access to be a human right. Think back to 20 years ago, and compare your access to information then to your access to it now. The difference is astounding. Both professionally and personally, having access to almost every piece of recorded human history, literature, science, and technology gives you a leg up over those without that access. As it stands now, the richest man on Earth has basically the same access to the same information as those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
That’s the beauty of the internet. It’s meritocracy at its finest. If you are a content creator, you no longer need to have the capital and physical infrastructure of a publishing house to get your ideas out to the world. Likewise, as a content consumer you don’t need to purchase a million books and magazines to have access to all of these ideas. As a result, we’re in a golden age of content sharing – the only barrier to entry is creativity. That’s how it should be.
Telecom companies are looking for the right to restrict that creativity while at the same time raising barriers for entry. Of course, that’s not how they’re pitching it. Amongst their more absurd claims, they’re saying that they’re not creating a “slow lane” for the internet, but rather a “fast lane” that’s pay-to-enter. Apparently big telecom’s PR companies don’t understand the relative nature of those two words, and that one can’t exist without the other, but regardless – they are very good at making the destruction of the internet as we know it today sound like a good thing.
So say they DO start charging Facebook and YouTube to allow their users faster access to those sites. Or, say they start charging all of us more money for access to those sites. Do you REALLY think that’s where they’ll stop? Has ANYTHING that Time Warner and Comcast have done this decade not ended up getting worse? If you can charge billion dollar companies money for speed, you can charge million dollar companies too right? If you can charge million dollar companies for a service you can charge mom and pop for it too, right? Or – If you can charge people for access to Facebook, you can charge them for access to Facebook AND Twitter right? If you can charge people for two sites, you can charge them even more for EVERY social network, right? Think those two trains of logic are just slippery-slope fallacies that would never happen? Well how did they happen to cable tv? By giving telecom companies the same leeway in that medium as they’re out their begging for with the Internet, RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.
So what can you do? For starters, you can go to the Save The Internet Home Page. They have contact forms and petitions to the FCC and other lawmakers, so that each individual netizen has the same access to the people that these billion dollar monopolies are throwing millions of dollars at. We strongly urge everyone to sign these petitions and get in touch with your representatives, to let them know that you’re not going to stand for the Internet being any less amazing than it is right now. On top of all that, educate yourself and others. Take some time today to really delve into the issue, and learn more about why telecom providers are framing the restriction of access to a human right as a positive thing. And finally, don’t shut up about it. This isn’t the first time big telecom has tried to pull this move, and unless decisive access is taken, it won’t be the last.
We’ll hop off of the soapbox now. Be sure to stop by tomorrow as we’ll be getting back to the delicious drinks and desserts that we all love so much!