Last week, the FCC won themselves no friends when it was leaked that their plan for net neutrality was to allow companies to pay for better connection speeds to their sites, essentially the opposite of the ‘free and open’ Internet that the organisation had promised to adopt in 2010. These principles offered the idea of transparency between ISP’s, no favouritism of content or provider and, above all, freedom of speech. The Internet is without doubt the most important communication system ever built, and the latest plans from the FCC seem to put the Internet in serious jeopardy as we know it.
To try and give you a better understanding on these latest proposals, the FCC would provide ‘fast lanes’ for companies that are willing to pay for it. This means the more they pay, the faster and more accessible their website would be. But this kind of system is against exactly what the Internet is about – a world where there is no favouritism, where everyone is equal. The Internet to some is a basic human right, and the FCC plans to allow companies to control that.
Whilst the FCC’s hold is just restricted to America, what effects could this have on social media?
I’m sure plenty of you remember the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) from 2 years ago. SOPA basically would allow companies to web hosts and tell them to block pirated content. The only problem was that the terminology was so vague that it could apply to any content – if you share a video on Facebook, you could be penalised. If you pinned something on Pinterest, you could be penalised. The central idea of sharing content on social networks would essentially be lost.
Whilst these new rules may not be as aggressive in removing content, it would be much harder for content to be provided by a smaller company. You could pay the FCC for access to these ‘faster lanes’, but how do you compete with companies like Google and Netflix? Also, companies you rely on to deliver your content could increase their prices to cater for the FCC charges.
And what about the social networks themselves? While we could probably imagine Facebook, Twitter and Google paying these new fees, would they continue to offer free models? What would happen to more niche networks such as Snapchat or Path?
What the FCC is proposing needs to be stopped. The Internet is an open platform that should be viewable and usable by everyone with no kind of prejudice. Innovation, and more importantly freedom, would be halted if the FCC were able to enforce any of their proposals.
If you would like to find out more information about the new proposals from the FCC, as well as ways you can help prevent them, visit http://www.savetheinternet.com/