If Net Neutrality Dies, Is This What the Future of the Internet Will Look Like?

Opponents of “fast lanes” turn to video-game avatars to get their doomsday message out.

NoSlowLane.com / YouTube
National Journal
Kaveh Waddell
See more stories about...
Kaveh Waddell
May 27, 2014, 1 a.m.

The fu­ture of the In­ter­net is a dysto­pia run by the world’s biggest, richest com­pan­ies.

That’s the way the Pro­gress­ive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee sees it, call­ing a scen­ario where net neut­ral­ity fails “like liv­ing in the lag­gi­est game you’ve ever played.”

In a video aimed at gamers, a spunky avatar sends a warn­ing from the year 2084 to ex­plain that the de­cision to forgo net neut­ral­ity “killed star­tups and com­pet­i­tion.”

“All we have left,” she la­ments, “is the junk that big cor­por­a­tions want us to see.”

{{third­PartyEmbed type:you­tube id:PEI9Rtw­cvhE}}

The ar­gu­ment isn’t new. But for all the dooms­day rhet­or­ic sur­round­ing net neut­ral­ity — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., a lead­er in the fight for net neut­ral­ity, calls the is­sue “the most im­port­ant First Amend­ment is­sue of our time” — such a fiery hell­s­cape is un­likely.

That’s be­cause the ma­ligned Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion has op­ted to lay out a vague frame­work on net neut­ral­ity that would leave it with a great deal of lat­it­ude to en­force neut­ral­ity rules — or not. FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er would have rules en­forced on a “case-by-case basis” rather than cre­at­ing a ri­gid struc­ture that could stifle the In­ter­net’s nat­ur­al evol­u­tion and growth.

Be­sides, the In­ter­net is hardly a level play­ing field today. Al­though the FCC’s pro­posed “fast lanes” — which would al­low In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders to slow traffic to web­sites that don’t pay for spe­cial ser­vice — don’t yet ex­ist, many bar­ri­ers already stand in the way of star­tups’ entry in­to the high-band­width on­line world. Large con­tent pro­viders like Google and Face­book pay for con­tent-de­liv­ery net­works that ease the bur­den caused by high traffic. This al­lows them to host more pho­tos and videos, and de­liv­er them more quickly to large num­bers of users.

Al­though an FCC de­cision that strikes down net neut­ral­ity could ex­acer­bate this in­equal­ity, it is un­likely to plunge the In­ter­net in­to the cor­por­ate-owned abyss. Even 70 years from now.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4950) }}

What We're Following See More »
LITTLE MARCO FOR SENATE
Trump to Rubio: Run for Reelection
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump may have defeated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions, but he wants the man he dubbed Little Marco to keep his job in the Senate. "Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump is not the first to urge Rubio to run, though the senator has said such a move is unlikely. The filing deadline is June 24. 

Source:
FIRST SITTING POTUS TO VISIT
At Hiroshima, Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons Friday during a somber visit to Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb 71 years ago. "That is the future we can choose,” Obama said. “A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

Source:
AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
19 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
22 hours ago
THE LATEST
×