The Ongoing Battle for Net Neutrality (part 1?)

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In case you’ve just stumbled across us, you might not know that this is a podcast about system administration/engineering/etc. You also might not know that it’s hosted by people actually in the field. (I guess that makes us like a more nerdy version of Car Talk…)

You might have heard about something called Net Neutrality. Net neutrality is a concept that says that ISPs/data carriers should not throttle or prevent access to certain “exclusive” or otherwise sites/content depending on subscription plan of the subscriber. In other words, they can’t charge you more for using GMail for an email provider instead of services bundled with your plan, for instance.

Why is this important? Because since the birth of the Internet and its subsequent arrival to the public/consumer after it “outgrew” the days of ARPANET, it has been based on providing information and a voice to the masses. It was designed to be as free (as in speech) as possible. And we’ve seen some incredible things happen as a result- how many of you have found a friend, or a romantic relationship, or a new hobby, or how to fix your car, etc. because of the Internet? How many of you are thankful for your local library’s free Internet access?

If net neutrality weren’t protected, there would be no promise that what we do, as Sysadministrivia, could even exist, nor that all the above could either. You read that correctly. You could end up having to pay a premium to your ISP for “podcast access”. Because after all, media is “a lot heavier” than websites.

Want to watch some YouTube? Nope, only available at a premium price. Online gaming? Premium. Want to visit an underground news site, or an online zine? Sorry, not an approved media/news/content site- Premium’d. That’s many of the ISPs’ justification for it- that it “costs more” to deliver certain content/peer with certain networks that provide this content. While this is certainly arguable, we should instead consider that it is the ISP’s responsibility to work with their peering partners to ensure a more efficient system. But they’d rather place that burden on consumers without fixing the root problem.

If you want to help us, and the entire Internet, to remain free and accessible then I urge you to make your voice heard (NOTE: uses Google Analytics. If you’d prefer one without, you can use EFF’s recommended resource).

I have, because keeping information available and accessible is important to me. I hope it is to you as well.

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