I try to avoid politics on this blog, but occasionally I make an exception when it’s a topic of vital importance to writers. The Google-Verizon deal is one of those topics.
In a nutshell, Verizon is agreeing to give Google priority on its systems over all other Internet traffic. According to the New York Times, the agreement “could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.”
If other corporate giants hammer out similar deals–and the Verizon-Google contract is all the precedent they need–it would be the death knell of Net (network) Neutrality. Net Neutrality means that all Websites are treated equally. No Website–from Google with all of its ramifications down to Uncle Joe’s blog on wheat grass–is deemed more important than any other; the users determine the importance of any particular Website.
According to savetheinternet.com: “The consequences of a world without Net Neutrality would be devastating. Innovation would be stifled, competition limited, and access to information restricted. Consumer choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporations.”
Josh Silver, President of Free Press, writes in Huffington Post that “the [Verizon-Google] deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as you know it.” Later in the same article Silver says:
“A non-neutral Internet means that companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google can turn the Net into cable TV and pick winners and losers online … Ending Net Neutrality would end the revolutionary potential that any website can act as a television or radio network. It would spell the end of our opportunity to wrest access and distribution of media content away from the handful of massive media corporations that currently control the television and radio dial.”
In a New York Times article Edward Wyatt writes:
“Cable and telephone companies want free rein to sell specialized services like ‘paid prioritization,’ which would speed some content to users more quickly for a fee. Wireless companies, meanwhile, want no restrictions on wireless broadband, which they see as a different technology than Internet service over wires.”
If you think this is all abstract and may not affect you, let’s bring it a little closer to home. Are you a Twitter or Facebook user? If Net Neutrality goes, those applications most-likely would go as well; Google has similar products which would be given priority. Do you blog on WordPress? Google has Blogger, which would elbow out WordPress.
Why is Net Neutrality in danger? According to Silver: “We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision … a president who promised to ‘take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality’ yet remains silent … a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry.”
Net Neutrality has been called “the first amendment issue of this generation.” It must be protected.
Every writer, reader, and Internet user has a stake in Net Neutrality. For more information and to find out what you can do to make a difference, read the complete New York Times and Josh Silver articles and visit savetheinternet.com.