This article was originally published on Medium and written by Matt Britton (CEO, Crowdtap). Britton will join Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons (musician, producer, entrepreneur) for a fireside keynote at Social Media Week New York on April 24, 2018.
It happened. Today the FCC marked the end of Net Neutrality. Many do not understand what this means, or even think it matters. Make no mistake though, today’s decision is going to affect you in more ways than you can imagine both personally and professionally. In many ways the world has changed in an instant…
What does it mean? Quite simply it now means that Internet and Wireless service providers can choose what content they will and will not stream to consumers and at what speed. For example, Verizon may charge subscribers an extra fee to access Amazon, decide to block Fox programming, and speed up Yahoo! (which they now own). With Net Neutrality said restrictions were not allowed, all content on the Internet was to be treated equally regardless of source. Those days are now sadly over.
The impacts of Net Neutrality’s demise are as scary as they are wide reaching.
We have now seemingly moved one step closer towards Internet censored nations like China.
Now if one of a handful of internet or wireless service providers disagree with a political belief or stance they can make it more difficult if not impossible to to access all the information you need on a daily basis. In these troubling times unbiased and open access to information is critical to understanding the truth. Now you are potentially limited to how your ISP views the truth. Or even scarier, (and I’ll just go ahead and write it before it could get censored), what if special interest groups now get involved with ISPs and stamp out online publishers who distribute news they deem to be Fake?
Ever wonder what it’s like to live in North Korea which only distributes state-run news? Let’s hope we never need to find out the hard way.
Competing business interests may come at the expense of the consumer.
Why would Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, which owns Hulu, make it easier for you to access Netflix when they are competing directly against them? Are you subjected to dial-up streaming speeds? Forced to pay more? In either scenario the consumer loses. Why would Google’s new streaming service allow any online video property besides YouTube to flourish? Can ABC which is a major advertiser use its spending leverage to stamp out upstarts like Bleacher Report which compete with ESPN? Will Wikipedia just vanish because they have intentionally not created a commercial model?
The democratization of opportunity has taken a major step backwards.
Right now we live in a world where an 11 year old can earn $6 million a year reviewing toys on YouTube and that is an amazing thing. The dissemination of the social web decidedly shifted the power away from major networks and into the hands of consumers. With the end of Net Neutrality has now been reclaimed by corporations. ISPs now have the ability to pick and choose the platforms which showcase stars that they have a vested stake in.
Fame and achievement is no longer a meritocracy, but a bureaucracy which means more BackStreet Boys and less Ed Sheeran’s.
Goliath now has the permission to stomp out David once again
Say a powerful bank is a major investor in an ISP. That bank earns fees through facilitating institutional investments. Will they now try to mute platforms like Kickstarter which has given people hope when they had nowhere else to turn? One of the great things about the Internet is it was the great equalizer, the future was determined on the sidewalks and not the boardrooms. Well today that has all changed, and while it may not be today or even in 2018, sooner or later we will be taking a major step backwards.
It will be up to the David’s that have triumphed to fix this.
It’s time for Zuckerberg, Bezos, Larry, Sergey, Gates, and all the tech billionaires to preserve the Internet freedoms which enriched them. They need to band together to provide lightning fast uncensored Internet to all Americans for the continual advance of American society. Unlike many other issues this can be fixed with money but it will not come easy.
Oh and one more thing…can we please move on to 2018 already :)?
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