Net neutrality: why we need it, now

Okay, for those of you who don’t know, I’m going to try to explain just what net neutrality is, and why we need it now more than ever.

First, we have the recent attempt by Comcast to block Internet-based video services such as Netflix and Hulu. (Most of the news reports about this have only mentioned Netflix, however some Twitter users I am following seem to have implied that Hulu might be getting blocked as well.) There is no good reason for this other than a control freak mentality on the part of Comcast, who might block YouTube and Vimeo next unless they are stopped.

That’s bad enough. But you know what really hacks me off? This article on Engadget which shows what some Internet providers want to do: charge specific tolls and set specific bandwidth limits and restrictions on access to selected Internet sites. Facebook will cost, say, an extra 2 cents per megabyte, and YouTube will be capped at 60 kilobytes/second with an extra 50 cent fee per month. The frightening thing? There’s nothing stopping an Internet provider from just up and blocking blogs like the one you’re reading now, or to charge an arbitrarily high fee to read them.

I pay very little to keep my blogs online; the traffic charges are at worst $1 per gigabyte (and go down as I accumulate more total traffic over the lifetime of the account). And none of that is paid by my readers. I intentionally accept no advertising on this blog; I am open to the idea of accepting it on my other currently active blog, Quinn’s Big City, but as a practical matter the readership numbers are not high enough to make it feasible right now.

This is about profit for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Vodafone don’t want you to hear. I’m getting the message out now while I still can. Because there’s no telling when it’ll cost you an extra 25 cents per megabyte to read my blogs, if you can at all. Every blogger should be worried about this, especially those who blog on controversial topics and call out the corporations, particularly those in the large to gargantuan size range, for greed like this.

The last thing the Internet needs is a bunch of greedy companies throwing up tollbooths in front of Internet services “just because.”