By L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Net neutrality is a simple concept—we all have equal access to the internet. Yet the underlying structure is complex, and recent FCC proposals could negatively affect us all. Particularly authors who depend on internet exposure to make a living.
The latest proposal: The FCC wants to allow networks and carriers (Comcast!) to create fast lanes, in which certain content providers who pay for the privilege are given preferential treatment. Internet service providers (ISPs) have wanted this for a long time because it gives them the ability to speed up or slow down traffic to certain websites and increase their profit.
Essentially, those who can pay (Google, YouTube, Amazon) will get faster service and more internet visibility, and those who can’t (individuals, startups, artists) will be left with crumbs. Even without digging into specific examples, this seems inherently wrong. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “the net effect will be to tie creators to a small number of large platforms, reduce the choice and leverage of independent artists relative to corporate media, and make it harder for new or marginalized voices to be heard.”
And when you consider that Comcast is about to merge with Time Warner to become a major ISP and is the only ISP available in certain areas, the idea of giving Comcast even more control of the internet seems like a really bad idea. Concentrating power in the hands of a few is always dangerous.
This isn't just about myself as an author/entrepreneur, but as a consumer with a curious intellect who wants to be able to access a vast array of ideas on the internet—with equal speed.
The FCC seems to have lost its mind on both decisions. My personal opinion it that it should block the merger and drop the fast-lane idea. Consumers, who depend on the internet for information, social networking, and many purchases (books!), need a choice of providers and a level playing field.