Dear Crabby, What is Net Neutrality?

Dear Crabby,

I’m not very computer savvy, but I understand a lot of people are up in arms about Net Neutrality. What is it and why does it matter?

Thanks,

W.W. Webb

 

Dear W.W. Webb

I know what you mean. Until I began my illustrious blogging career, if anyone had mentioned ‘the net’ to me I would have assumed they meant fishing or basketball. Of course, I now know ‘the net’ is short for the Internet, which has become just as important as breathing for a lot of people. As for new neutrality, that basically prohibits Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. It’s like the old Burger King slogan – ‘Have it your way.’ Free and open has been the Internet’s M.O. and people are pretty darn happy to keep it that way. So, of course someone wants to come along and mess it up. Guess they’re not familiar with the phrase, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Just last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Republican majority approved Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to put an end to those protections. As you can imagine, folks are not happy. It’s interesting to note that this Pai fella was once a lawyer for Verizon. And you can bet I have opinions on lawyers, but for now I’ll keep those to myself. Now at this point you may be wondering if Net Neutrality goes away, what does that mean for John Q. Public? Well, it means those companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to which websites, content, and applications succeed. So, instead of you seeing the info you want, they can filter out competitor’s content or even block political opinions they disagree with. Because who needs free speech, right? This means groups and businesses who are considered small potatoes in the grand scheme of things will suffer. No more ability to organize marches, vigils, and the like. And small businesses? Yep. They will be affected too. Think about how much these mom and pop shops rely on the Internet to reach new customers, and advertise their products and services. While big business is well and good, it’s the small businesses that are the lifeblood of communities. I vividly remember those in my neighborhood growing up and can’t imagine my childhood without them. So, the bottom line is no matter your level of experience with ‘the net,’ it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on so we can enjoy the freedoms – namely free speech – that so many fought for.

On the other hand, the Internet worked just fine before Net Neutrality started in 2015 – so, only time will tell. The important thing is that you have easy access to read my column.

Hope this clears up any confusion and happy surfing the web,

Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at DearCrabby@rochestermedia.com.

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