The Internet as We Know it is Dead
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which overseas our media to ensure fairness is about to eliminate net neutrality and give giant communications companies what they’ve always wanted – the ability to charge more to access the Internet.
Internet service providers or ISPs will be able to charge web companies for ‘fast lanes’ and smaller online video or videogame providers could be relegated to the slow lane. The big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix and others may have to pay more to ensure fast access, while smaller online companies may go bankrupt.
The new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – who is in favor of voting against net neutrality – formerly worked as a lawyer for Verizon, one of the major media companies that will benefit from the proposed change. His role is the classic example of how corruption works – a revolving door between working for a corporation and then serving a few years in a government agency that regulates their industry so that the company can gain favors. It happens in nearly every industry.
Forbes wrote that telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon who provide Internet service will bundle websites like they bundle cable television channels. However, this may provoke a huge public outcry, in which case they will shift to a plan where content providers (Google, Yahoo, Amazon who pay more) favored by them will be given preferential treatment (faster connection!). The Internet where freedom to download everybody equally will be dead.
Just like the latest Trump/Republican tax plan that mostly favors the big corporations and wealthy people, this change will only benefit a few large telecom companies.
“As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith,” Jonathan Cook wrote on Counterpunch.com. “Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as ‘net neutrality’ becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the ‘maturing’ of the Internet.”
The FCC plans to repeal the regulations next month. The move appears to mirror the financial industry when banks were able to get the government to repeal regulations so they could invest in subprime loans and other giant ponzi schemes that sank the world economy in 2008.
Much of the debate has been focused on the impact of ending the rules on online commercial ventures and that is why Amazon and porn sites like Pornhub have been leading the opposition, Cook wrote.
“But that is overshadowing the more significant threat to progressive sites and already-embattled principals of free speech,” he wrote.
In the name of fighting “fake news,” search engines like Google have limited exposure to alternative left and right news sites, while The Washington Post published a story (which it later retracted) that stated certain independent web sites should be censured because they are anti-US government (similar to the days when Sen. McCarthy accused people of being communists in the 1950s).
“ISPs will be given a much freer hand to determine the content we can get online,” Cook writes. “They will be able to slow down the access speeds of sites that are not profitable – which is true for activist sites, by definition. But they may also be empowered to impose Chinese-style censorship, either on their own initiative or under political pressure. The fact that this may be justified on commercial, not political, grounds will offer little consolation.”