Whenever I don’t know a lot about something/I need a creative way to talk about a certain topic, I decide to interview everyone’s favorite search engine, Google.
In the past, Google has learned me up on things like Terry Richardson’s perverseness and the “God Drug” DMT, but today I’m going to sit down and discuss an important but complex issue that’s popped up on most news sites, including this one:
What is it? Well, that’s for me to not know but soon find out. Here we go…
Bryce Taylor Rudow: Hey Googz, how’s it hanging?
Google: Well, I just bought Nest, a thermostat and smoke detector company for $3.2 billion the other day, so I’d say, “It’s getting hot in here (so hot)! So take off all your...”
BTR: No Nelly! We’ve talked about this. Well congratulations I guess; I hope you live a smoke-free and room-temperatured life. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about net neutrality.
Google: That is a trending topic.
BTR: That’s kind of why I’m here. So what exactly is it?
Google: "Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication."
BTR: Ok, that all sounds good. I’m for all that. We’re in a progressive society; there shouldn’t be any discrimination, right? So what’s the problem?
Google: "A federal appeals court nullified key provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, opening the door to a curated approach to internet delivery that allows broadband providers to block content or applications as they see fit. The 3-0 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit guts much of a 2010 Federal Communications Commission order, in a challenge brought by Verizon."
BTR: How the hell did Verizon pull that one off?
Google: "The nation’s number one mobile provider successfully argued that the regulatory agency overstepped its authority because it issued the rules in 2010 without classifying broadband providers as common carriers, like rank-and-file telcos."
BTR: Son of a bitch. That’s bad, right? Why exactly is this bad though?
Google: "The biggest cable and telephone companies would like to charge money for smooth access to Web sites, speed to run applications, and permission to plug in devices. These network giants believe they should be able to charge Web site operators, application providers and device manufacturers for the right to use the network. Those who don't make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination: Their sites won't load as quickly, and their applications and devices won't work as well."
BTR: Ohhh. So it’s all about the money, I get it now. Ca$h Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money.
Google: Dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.
BTR: RIP ODB. Ok, so this is yet another example of big corporations screwing over the little guy. That sucks for the smaller ISPs and stuff but why is everyone getting even more upset than usual?
Google: "Imagine that Verizon or AT&T don't like the idea of Google Voice, because it allows you to send text messages for free using your data connection. Your cellphone carrier could block access to Google Voice from your smartphone so you're forced to pay for a texting plan from them. Or, they see that a lot of people are using Facebook on their smartphone, so even if they have the bandwidth to carry that traffic, they decide to charge you extra to access Facebook, just because they know it's in high demand and that they can make a profit."
BTR: Wait what?! But how am I going to post my hilarious status updates?!
Google: "Similarly, Comcast recently got in a tiff with Netflix over its streaming video offerings, essentially telling Netflix's partners that they'd need to pay if they wanted their content delivered on their network. Comcast argued that streaming Netflix is a huge traffic burden, and if they're going to provide that service they'll need to update their infrastructure."
BTR: Do not. Go near. My Netflix. House of Cards' second season is just around the corner! Is there anyone actually encouraging this behavior?
Google: "Many free market proponents are also against the idea of net neutrality, noting that Comcast and AT&T are companies like any other that should be able to compete freely, without government regulation. They themselves aren't "the internet"—they're merely a gateway the internet, and if they're each allowed to manage their networks differently, you're more likely to have competition between service providers which ultimately, they claim, is better for the users. If you don't like the fact that Netflix is slower on Comcast than it is on AT&T, you can switch to AT&T."
BTR: Digital Libertarians…Awesome…Ugh, I am really not liking this. But having to spend more money on stuff I didn’t expect is kind of just business as usual nowadays, right? Minus the whole “it helps monopolies in a two-fold way,” is there anything else I should be worried about?
Google: "If any company can control what content is provided or allow some data to travel faster over the Internet than other data, it is argued, it can suppress opinions it doesn't agree with."
BTR: Oh… Well… Shit. I read and write a lot of things that people disagree with. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s The Daily Banter’s unofficial motto. Why do these ISPs have to be such dicks? What a bunch of coal-hearted losers.
Google: "Really, though, you and I are the chief losers, because we will pay more and get less than we would have in a more competitive world where we, not the central authorities, make the key decisions about the services and media we want. We won't know what innovation doesn't happen, because it won't be around."
BTR: Way to get way too real there, Googz. Is there anything that can be done at this point?
Google: "To get the US on a better course, the FCC could classify the telecoms as "common carriers" – a designation that would require them to behave neutrally toward the companies that provide information and services, allowing end users to make the decisions."
BTR: Ok! So how can I help?
Google: "Net neutrality's a complicated issue, and a lot of people still aren't informed about what's going on. Explain the issue to your friends and family—the more people know about it, the more people that might be affected and might speak out. You can also check out SavetheInternet.com for pro-net neutrality voices. They've each got a ton of links to other ways you can talk to your congresspeople, write letters and sign petitions to make your voice heard."
BTR: So kind of like what I just did here? Cool. I’m still feeling a little depressed though. How about a movie? Any suggestions?
BTR: Sometimes, I really miss Lycos.