You can find just about anything online largely because of Net Neutrality. For now, all data is essentially equal online. This reality affords users the broadest spectrum of choice. There is a lot of discussion about this right now given the recent push by the FCC to change the rules. A recent article from Reuters describes it this way:
“Consumer advocates worry that “fast lanes” for content companies willing to pay up would leave startups and others behind. They call on the FCC to reclassify Internet providers as utilities, like telephone companies, rather than the less-regulated information services they are now.
More than 100 technology companies including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. have warned that Wheeler’s [FCC Chair] proposal poses “a grave threat to the Internet.” Democratic lawmakers, venture capitalists and a group of musicians and artists expressed similar worries.”
You want as many choices as possible in nearly every aspect of life, especially online. Imagine though, that corporations could purchase their way to the head of the line, or even remove their competitors from your equation. Corporations could fundamentally change the experience that you have online as Consumer, Commentator, Contributor, or Content Curator.
I think an interesting comparison might be the recent Supreme Court decision to lift the restrictions on campaign contributions. We cannot fully anticipate the impact of the Supreme Court Decision, and the issue of Net Neutrality poses some similar kinds of questions; once again will large well-funded entities make choices for those with less? Do you trust the regulation of the government, or the goodwill of corporations?
This is an issue to pay close attention to.
Learn more about how a potential threat to Net Neutrality might affect the online communities that you value.