R.I.P. Net Neutrality

December 18, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

In a move that shook just about everyone with access to the internet to the core, the Federal Communications Commission in the US (FCC) voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, net neutrality is all about keeping an open web where internet service providers can’t influence the traffic, no matter the source.

Essentially, Internet content should be equal and accessible. Period.

Lawsuits are expected (most notably those related to Eric Schneiderman’s investigation over fake net neutrality comments submitted by stolen identities) and some are holding out hope that Congress can be pressured into using the Congressional Review Act “to pass a resolution of disapproval.” Meaning, it can overrule this ruling.

That said, little is expected to change immediately. It takes time for these things to go into place.

But the masses are already ripe with fear about slowed internet speeds and inaccessible, premium packages made to access services like Netflix.

In all honesty, the fear is pretty valid. After all, it’s not every day that America free makes the internet quite the opposite.

This is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why:

1. Over time, this may affect the access we have to American content.

Though Canada has strict net neutrality rules in place (thanks to the CRTC), this vote in the US might actually affect how Canadians receive American content.

The Globe and Mail reported that OpenMedia warned people services like Netflix might charge Canadians more if the service itself has to pay for priority speeds.

A claim like this isn’t that far off if you think of this in strictly business terms. Subscribers aren’t only going to have to pay for the service itself, but they may have to pay for premium internet packages just to access the website.

So what happens after that? Well, those people who don’t want to pay such a high price for both simply won’t and websites like Netflix may need to charge more to cover the cost difference.

Of course, this is all speculation. But it’s not far off, since unfortunately a lot of this move is being viewed as a means to increase the bottom line for broadband service providers.

Remember what Trudeau Sr. said about sleeping with an elephant? Looks like we may just be feeling those twitches and grunts.

2. One word: SCANDAL.

As we mentioned above, a lot of this net neutrality discussion has been marred in scandal and intrigue.

Firstly, Fortune reported that “more than half of the 21.7 million public comments supporting the rule change were likely faked.” Tech Crunch then shared a series of tweets where people found their deceased parents supposedly making comments.

To thicken the plot further, the current chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer. We’ll leave you to draw conclusions for yourself.

This may only be two notes to list, however, they’re big ones that really affect the legitimacy of this ruling. After all, how now can arguments for the move really be vetted by comments submitted by allegedly stolen identities? Consequently, you’ll notice that one of the main words used to describe the FCC’s move is “unlawful.”

However, at this point, literally only time will tell to see how things will roll out (or not) going forward.

3. The internet was so wrapped up in the flurry of activity after the vote that it couldn’t nail down the spelling of “neutrality.”

This might not be business-related or even a super “serious” observation. But as the vote results were being released, the flurry of activity meant people literally could not figure out how to spell neutrality as they used hashtags to track discussion and news reports.

Even news outlets used the incorrect spelling of the hashtag (despite the fact that the correct version included an easily recognizable loading emoji).

We like how Quartz summed up the confusion over the spelling of “neutrality”:

What’s going on here? It’s possible that the misspelling was pushed by bots, in an effort to misdirect from the cause. Or tens of thousands of people spelled it incorrectly, and in the same way. It is kind of a hard word to type, n-e-u-t-r-a-l-i-t-y.

Either way, once a hashtag starts picking up steam, others are likely to adopt it, thanks to Twitter’s autocomplete feature. So now it’s trending.

We don’t know whether to nervous laugh or do this:


4. Ajit Pai’s Reese’s cup.

Another totally not serious observation, but is it just us or does this image just compound the issue behind this ruling by making it all look totally farcical?

Let us know your thoughts on the infamous Reese’s mug.

As this FCC ruling has very real and potentially scary implications for Internet users, we’re taking some time to wonder what the future of the web will be.

Not to be dramatic, but depending on how this plays out, it will completely change how content is shared and consumed. And it’s soon to be 2018.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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