With the new net-neutrality rules finally in play, there is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about what this could do to us (hapless) consumers. Before we go there, it is instructive to take a walk back in time to a wonderful article in WIRED magazine in 2010 titled The Web is Dead. Long Live The Internet.
Remember that? If not, I suggest taking this walk back two decades ago as it will serve as the foundation on which the rest of this article is based.
Here is a summary: With the advent of the iPhone, app-based economy and large single point destinations for music (Pandora, for example) and movies (Netflix, for example), the original definition of the WorldWideWeb—aka web properties hosting servers—was going the way of the dodo bird as there was no reason to ever go there with, god forbid, a browser!
Fast forward to today—seven years later—the big 7 hubs of the digital universe [Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu] have gotten even bigger and in those contemporary walled gardens is where we live and breathe and very seldom, if at all, do we venture anywhere else. As Marco, Sean and I have espoused for #TheMoralCompass—where these digital hubs are collecting more data at a faster pace with impunity—and we, consumers, are constantly getting ‘shocked and awed’ when we find out what we are giving up in the name of convenience, “free” and connectedness.
And that has made the providers of transport—AT&T, Comcast, Verizon—marginalized providers in this new-age hub economy. The ‘net neutrality rules’ attempt (in theory) to correct that; to right this wrong, if you will.
So, what’s the problem? Lots.
Suddenly, if you think you had trouble—or were ignoring the risks at your peril—dealing with the intrusive and extensive data collection of the big 7 hubs, now you have the meddling intermediaries—namely AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast as examples—each playing god on which property you get to visit at what speed and with what guarantees. So, a ‘Google search for a fidget spinner’ may take 10 seconds to complete on Verizon, 2 seconds on AT&T and may never complete on Comcast.
But wait, it gets better. All you have to do is press the $5 turbo boost button, and suddenly you are Googling away. You get the drift here, I assume.
The big 7 will survive—read thrive—by striking deals with these service providers, so their content gets prioritized. Netflix already does this today.
Yes, we may end up footing the bill to get to our content. However, there is a bigger casualty here. That is the smaller properties of the world. The Mediums, who do not have the clout nor the deep pockets of the big 7, and being a free service have no paid subscribers to tap into; they will be given the shittiest (pardon my French) of treatment. And, your blog (sob, my blog too) will see fewer and fewer views.
An even more chilling scenario comes with the advent of the connected Internet of Things (IoT): If your insulin pump is not able to connect to the cloud brain in time and a faulty dosage is injected—whose responsibility will that be?
The WIRED article, temporally fast-forwarded to today, could read ‘The Internet is dead. Long live the big 7 and their intermediaries.’
So, should we just wring our hands and gaze slowly at the reload button or keep buying Turbo Boost?
Come join us in spreading the word, drive consumer awareness and pressing your service provider, local representative and the FTC with your opinions. Be sure to join Marco, Sean and me on #TheMoralCompass where we will be having some provocative conversations (what’s new) on this important topic.
There are tons of more security aspects to this life-altering regulation, will delve into that in a future post.