If you go just about anywhere online today, September 10th, 2014, you will find yourself encountering all sorts of banners and graphics of spinning disks (or spinning discs, take your pick), that exhort you to affix your name to a petition to support net neutrality.
The way that they are doing this is by sponsoring the Internet Slowdown day, where all sites that are participating in the Internet slow down day display a banner or other graphic of a spinning disk (the universal symbol for “my computer is taking its own sweet time”), to hook into the annoyance that you will inevitably feel at seeing that spinning disk (Pavlovian social engineering). The banners than urge you to “take action” or “sign & send”, referring to the petition.
Says the Battle for the Net site, “Cable companies are famous for high prices and poor service. Several rank as the most hated companies in America. Now, they’re attacking the Internet – their one competitor and our only refuge–with plans to charge websites arbitrary fees and slow (to a crawl) any sites that won’t pay up. If they win, the Internet dies.”
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Sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it?
They go on to explain that “We believe in the free and open Internet, with no arbitrary fees or slow lanes for sites that can’t pay.”
Now, net neutrality is a divisive issue at best. There are cogent arguments on all sides. Maintaining an infrastructure to transit enormous amounts of Internet traffic is not without a cost, and traditionally a business is allowed to pass on costs to its customers. The fear here, of course, is that rather than just passing along costs, the big cable and other Internet providers will create a class system, where businesses who can afford to pay for first class service will get speedier connections, and others won’t.
We believe that you should make up your own mind. So by all means sign the net neutrality pledge – or don’t – but whatever action you take, do it based on informed opinion, not a visceral response.
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