Net Neutrality: The Internet Strikes Back

The Internet Strikes BackI’m taking a break from your regularly scheduled discussion of all things Man-Titty and Romance to participate in The Internet Strikes Back which focuses on Net Neutrality.

For those of you not in the US, or in the US and not sure what the hell I’m talking about, Net Neutrality is about allowing internet users the same speed and level of connection across devices, hardware, and method of connection. If Net Neutrality were not in effect, Verizon, for example, my internet service provider, could give me faster connective speeds to it’s sponsored sites and block access to sites it doesn’t want me to see. Moreover, it could block my access to competitors or sites it doesn’t like me to use.

In other words, without Net Neutrality, my complaints about AT&T wireless coverage will look like a love song compared to complaints about access limitations imposed by ISPs. You could, if someone decided my site was not ok for the general populace, be blocked by your ISP from this site, or have the connection be so slow you give up, though that’s a bit of a reach. I’d be surprised if an ISP noticed romance novels.

Congress is holding a hearing on the current FCC rules about Net Neutrality that provide some measures of protection against ISP access interference. The problem is that if the current FCC (that’s Federal Communications Commission) rules are overturned, there is ample room for these types of limitations, and further shenanigans with private deals between an ISP and a content provider. If the current FCC rules are removed, there’s little to prevent a company with tons and tons of cash on hand (let’s say… MacroHard) to strike a deal with an ISP (such as… Horizon-tal) to slow access to a site like Google and instead encourage with exclusive whippy-fast speeds access to a different search engine (let’s call it… Wing).

Now this is an entirely hypothetical scenario – but in my experience, cash + power + telecom = my connectivity tends to suck (AT&T are your ears burning? How about you, Apple?).

I’m of the opinion that anything that removes my choice and my access to information is bad, particularly when the determination of that choice is placed in the hands of a telecommunications company, and not the individual user. It’s not about the information itself – the information would still be there. It’s about the access to that information – and someone else determining whether you should have it.

On February 16, the US Congress will hold a hearing on Net Neutrality with a vote to decide whether the current FCC rules should be overturned. Public Knowledge is coordinating a day of action on February 17 to alert representatives how their constituents feel about Net Neutrality. You can sign up for a text message alert on the 17th that will remind you to call your representative, and you can learn more at the Public Knowledge site.

I’m going to call my representative (Can someone tell me why Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.‘s website does NOT have a menu item called “Bill’s Bills?” I mean, how perfect would THAT be?) on the 17th. If this is something you feel strongly about, I hope you’ll join in and speak up.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ana says:

    You could, if someone decided my site was not ok for the general populace, be blocked by your ISP from this site,

    Sorry to tell you but I can’t access this web from my local library… apparently smartBITCHES triggers some kind of porn-alarm and all I get is a giant X on my screen… So, not only I can’t read the site from there, but I look like a perv just for trying… :P
    In other news: I hope Net Neutrality is mantained!

  2. 2
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    I’d be surprised if an ISP noticed romance novels.

    Au contraire, my dear.  There are plenty of “family values” opportunists who will see the words “bitches” and “man-titty” and have a field day talking 24/7 about protecting innocent children from this sickening wave of internet pornography while quickly stuffing the huge bundles of AT&T or Verizon-provided cash into their pockets.

    Spam Filter:  seen74.  Yes, since 1974 (and before) I’ve seen enough to know that opportunistic politicians will go after any target they think will work for them.

  3. 3
    Ashley says:

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand how gov’t committees, votes, scheduling, etc work, but if the vote is on the 16th, why is the day of action on the 17th?

  4. 4
    meardaba says:

    Oh, Sarah, I feel ya.  In Canada we just fought the Law, and we’re not really sure if the Law won.  Net Neutrality wasn’t on the menu, but we had to beat back a pure money-grab by the dinosaurs we call telecoms here: they convinced the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission to cap our internet usage and charge overage fees (Usage Based Billing or UBB).  There was a huge online petition, and it even got our fairly hands-off federal government to look twice.  Now the CRTC is reviewing it’s decision and I’m pretty sure they’ll choose to revoke UBB, but I’m not confident.  As my friend says, in Canada you get to vote in two ways: one way comes around whenever they decide, and the other is every day with lots of money.  Guess which one telecoms are familiar with?

    I’m convinced that if UBB is allowed to stand, Net Neutrality will be the next to come up on our telecom’s agenda.  And as we saw a few weeks ago, the CRTC is riddled with telecom-sympathizers.

  5. 5
    DS says:

    I’m on this.  Thanks for the reminder.  I just looked at the voting record for our new congressman—He’s supposedly centrist R but he appears to be voting the party line so I don’t have much hope that he will pay attention to my efforts.  However, I can influence two other people registered in the district to sent texts.

  6. 6
    JulieB says:

    Like DS, I hold out little hope that my representative will vote in favor of Net Neutrality. I live in a purple patch of the reddest city in the reddest county in the reddest state of the Union. Concepts like Net Neutrality and regulation are up for sale to the highest bidder. A starving writer need not apply. Yet, I continue to blog and speak out.

  7. 7
    henofthewoods says:

    ashley – the hearings are on the 16th, the timing for the vote is not stated.

    I would think that this site would be in danger just from the ad links. The publishers of erotica would be easily targeted and so would the places they advertise. And while new porn sites would be popping up constantly, reputable publishers of actual readable ebooks can’t change their name every other week to avoid regulations.

    my word is bad49 – losing net neutrality is definitely bad.

  8. 8
    Karenmc says:

    My congress person (Blumenauer) is sane, but I’ll drop him a note anyway. I’ve been watching the struggles with the FCC that Senator Franken has been involved in, and none of it is easy; there’s too much money involved.

  9. 9
    Tracy says:

    Gee, why would little things like first amendment rights and monopoly laws be considered in this type of bill?  *sigh* I hate politics almost as much as I hate politicians. 

    Sorry to tell you but I can’t access this web from my local library… apparently smartBITCHES triggers some kind of porn-alarm and all I get is a giant X on my screen…

    It’s pretty common for libraries to use filters, which unfortunately catch sites that are actually appropriate from working.  But I know from experience that many, many users attempt to access porn sites from library computers.  Not only that, but then they’ll leave the site up and running for the next user, frequently children.  Thus…filters.  It’s a necessary evil unfortunately.

  10. 10
    saretta says:

    I like your blog’s attitude!

    Since you like romance books, you may want to participate in my giveaway of Edge of Midnight by Shannon McKenna at my blog Amid the Olive Trees.

  11. 11
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I have very little hope that the current Congress will act in the best interest of the public rather than the corporations; however, my state’s Reps. and Senators are (for the most part) fairly awesome, so at least I feel like they’re in our corner. You can bet that I’ll be calling them on the 17th, though.

  12. 12
    AnnaM says:

    My representative is consistently in favor of whatever big business wants.. .  I continue to email him anyway.  If my internet provider decided that it wanted to limit access to the website for my employer in favor of our competitors, they could impede my ability to earn a living.  In fact, any one who works remotely or uses the internet for research should be very concerned about net neutrality.

  13. 13
    P. Kirby says:

    I have very little hope that the current Congress will act in the best interest of the public rather than the corporations;

    Well, thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling, corporations are now “people” too.  Which makes it even more unlikely that politicians will do anything that isn’t in the best interest of corporations, their real constituency.

    But I’ll email my rep anyway.

  14. 14
    Merrian says:

    And we face the issue in Australia of the government forcing ISPs to compulsorily filter what can be accessed by expecting all internet material to comply with our conservative R ratings system. This means that blogs like this and e-publishers would have to apply for a rating. So you would probably have some sort of over 18 years/R rating for the content of blogs like this and the sex scenes in our books. It looks like non-rated stuff wouldn’t be allowed through.  Like the Canadians, the protests have slowed down the government’s efforts for the moment. The potential of net filtering to close down our vibrant online communities is very real.

  15. 15
    redbullbitch says:

    I have given up politics; it makes me too angry. Some of the conservatives in this country are nuts, (I did Not say all).
    I don’t know. If all else fails I am moving to Canada.
    This all being said I am disappointed no valentines day posts from SBs.

  16. 16
    meardaba says:

    I don’t know. If all else fails I am moving to Canada.

    Oh Redbullbitch, it won’t be much better up here.

  17. 17
    carly m. says:

    I think Merrian’s comment is the appropriate cautionary tale. Would I rather have these decisions made (because they will be made) by 5 unelected FCC commissioners who are answerable to no one, or by a bunch of corporate fatcats who at least have the profit motive of keeping their customers from switching providers.

  18. 18
    Jo Vandewall says:

    It just thoroughly amazes me that anyone would want to invite the government deeper into your lives. Because ISP blocking sites happens so often here. Oh, no, wait. That’s countries like China where the government IS involved in what you can see on the internet. The reason we don’t need the government protecting us from our ISP providers is because the ISPs aren’t all that interested in what you’re looking at. The ones who have restricted some of their content for outside eyes (can you say AO-hell?) are not any where near cornering the market for a good reason. There’s too much competition to make it stick. And if you want to throw your rights away so the nanny state will take care of this inconvenience that doesn’t even exist I’m sure you won’t be swayed by the pesky little fact that the Supreme Court has already said that the government doesn’t have the authority to regulate “net-neutrality.” How damned inconvenient of them.

  19. 19
    vermy says:

    I don’t have a problem with the basic idea and intent of Net Neutrality, but I do have a problem with the FCC expanding its authority over the internet to enforce it.  Look at the FCC’s terrible record of censorship in other media (e.g., radio & TV).  Given the opportunity, they will do the same with the internet.  I say, “thanks, but no thanks.”

↑ Back to Top