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Net Neutrality and What it Means to You
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AMERICA, the world, Saturday, June 7, 2014. Net neutrality is in the news these days. At issue is whether governments and Internet service providers like Verizon will treat all information from the Internet equally, without discriminating or charging different rates depending on user, content, web site, or computer used. This is the way the Internet is now and is also known as 'open Internet.' If net neutrality goes away and we arrive at 'closed Internet,' things won't work the same or as well. We can expect different technical standards in different countries or even in different states, making it harder for computers to communicate with each other. Internet speed may be artificially degraded just so that service providers can charge more for faster service. Maybe worse, those in charge will be able to filter out content for moral, religious or business reasons, for example.

Keeping the Internet the way it is currently is a matter of enforcing legal and technical regulations that were included when the Federal Communications Commission enacted the Open Internet Order in 2010. Some folks experience a knee-jerk reaction to the thought of imposed regulations, but these are standards meant for those who design our computers and the network hardware in them, and for those who sell us Internet service. These large companies suppose that there is more money to be made in a deregulated situation. It is the view of this writer that Internet service costs enough already.

In January 2014, stemming from a Verizon lawsuit, the DC District Court struck down the FCC's net neutrality rules as being based on a flawed legal foundation, but that decision left it open for the FCC to decide just how net neutrality should be reestablished. In April 2014, press reports leaked details of the FCC's latest proposal. In it, service providers are prevented from blocking or discriminating against websites, but these service providers would be able to charge companies for preferential treatment if THEY deemed it commercially reasonable. This again opens us all up for service providers to choose winners and losers and for the establishment of fast and slow lanes online.

The Chairman of the FCC is Tom Wheeler, a former cable company lobbyist. PLEASE visit the FCC's website at http://www.fcc.gov/comments and click Proceeding #14-28 on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, and let Chairman Wheeler know how you feel about it all. You might also write or call your Representatives and Senators. Of course, it's not a bad idea to talk it up amongst ourselves as well. It's a sure bet that we won't like the Internet if Verizon and Comcast get their way in this.
June 7, 2014

John G. Thomas,  your all-natural geek for

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