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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The State of the Internet - Frankly I'm Worried

Ok, advocacy post, but I'm really getting worried about the state of the internet, so I'm dedicating a post to have people sign this online petition to the FCC asking them to block the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

Three things have happened in the past few months have made me stop and really look around at the internet. I'm very concerned about its well-being.

1. The fact that Netflix is now paying Verizon to keep their traffic flowing. Verizon customers are already paying for this data to be delivered. This opens the door to Verizon extorting any data provider on the net to pay up, or something might happen to their packets along the way. What's next, Google? Cloud storage providers?

2. The fear that the Time Warner/Comcast merger might actually go through is very troublesome to me. Here we have ISP's who have been paid billions in government subsidies to improve speeds and extend network coverage. These ISPs are also in the content game and are trying to shut down competitors (See #1). It's NOT ok for a company to be providing the pipe AND the content. Also, the ISPs have been given monopoly status in most areas. They've been so brash as to sue municipalities to stop cities from building their own infrastructure. From the petition above, an approved merger would result in:

  • Comcast would control two-thirds of the nation's cable subscribers, five times any other cable company and 50 percent more than the largest satellite TV service. 
  • They would control nearly 40 percent of the U.S. broadband market. 
  • It would be trivial to leverage this power to force content providers to pay more to get their programming on, passing those price hikes on to customers.
  • And finally, it would combine two companies that already rank at the bottom of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index based on surveys with over 70,000 consumers. 


3. The NSA. What the NSA is doing to the internet is shameful. This is supposed to be a bastion of free speech. What people don't really get is that all of this collected data is being stored somewhere. Try to think ahead 30 years; can you guarantee that there won't be some dictatorial regime in charge of the USA? Things that aren't against the law could be against the law then, and if someone wanted to know your political leanings, or whether you every did X, they need only access that data.

The citizens of the US need to pay attention to which politicians are not on the people's side in these matters and vote them out, but right now, we need to make them understand that we are watching them!

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