The web as you know it is going to end.
- The ease with which to reach your favorite sites is going to end.
- The speed with which to reach those sites is going to end.
- The ease with which you share videos with friends is going to end.
- The freedom to access the site of any organization from Planned Parenthood to The Christian Coalition is going to end.
- Access to the wide selection of web-series is going to end.
- Access to the amazing choice of shopping sites is going to end.
- Access to information from a multitude of educational institutions is going to end.
This is because:
a) You are moving to China.
b) You are moving to Iran.
c) You are severing your ISP connection.
d) The efforts of ATT, Comcast, Time/Warner Cable, Verizon, Verizon Wireless, The NCTA
The correct answer is "d". The list of restrictions above is currently the plan of the United States telecom companies, who are trying to erode a long-standing Internet principle -- Net Neutrality -- which keeps the Internet as an open platform. As it stands now, anyone can create and distribute content on the Web and anyone can access any number of sites at comparable speeds. Net Neutrality is what makes the Internet so great -- and so vital for innovation and creativity.
These Telecom companies, the people who charge you every month for access to the Internet, have waged an extremely aggressive campaign against the very access for which you're paying.
They don't like that they can't tell you what to watch.
They don't like that they can't control the information you are accessing.
They don't like that with just a couple of bucks, you can build a website or a platform or a web-series that can garner the size of audience that only they used to command.
They don't like that they can't get a cut of all of it.
They grew accustom to controlling your phone rates (Hello, Skype). They grew accustom to controlling what you saw on cable. They grew accustom to their arrangement with the studios and the networks. And they grew accustom to the manner in which they financially participated in those arrangements. Now, because of the Internet, we have a different media landscape.
In Washington right now, the Federal Communications Commission is attempting to make Net Neutrality a hard and fast rule for the Internet. This would stop AT&T and other companies from destroying web content and your access to it. Because of this, the Telecom Companies have nearly 500 lobbyists in place to steal your Internet freedom. There are only 535 members of Congress. That's nearly one lobbyist for every member of Congress. The telecom companies have also (at press time) already spent nearly $75 million dollars to convince lawmakers to restrict your unfettered Internet access.
This is serious business. For them and for us. A liberated Internet will continue to be a reality in your life (and in the lives of your children) if rules like Net Neutrality are in place.
If you get involved in just one cause this year, let it be the one to fight against having your Internet access strangled. Because if you don't fight for this one, you will never be able to access the websites for all the other causes you care about and future generations will be robbed of an Internet Freedom that you had the power to maintain.
Internet Freedom is not for sale. Put your foot down.
Justine Bateman is a writer, producer, actress, director, and founding partner of FM78.tv, a production company focused on the future of entertainment.