In an attempt to curve a decision that will overwhelmingly affect what Americans can see and do online, international companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Reddit and Netflix altered the way their services are displayed on Wednesday in a protest against the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposals.
But why should the rest of the world care?
The internet is the world’s loudspeaker for free speech, and net neutrality has allowed for that to happen.
An open internet, where everyone has equal access to its contents, has become the best and most available modern medium where changes can be made whether locally or across the globe.
What is net neutrality?
It’s a principle that says all data on the internet should be treated equally.
It makes it impossible to sell internet speed priority as all information and users should be treated equally. Providers cannot sell a “fast lane” for anyone who pays up and relegate access of “small time” users to a “slower lane”.
In the United States, it’s an ongoing fight, as the new FCC chairman Ajit Pai wishes to get rid of the Open Internet Order set up under the Obama administration on competition grounds.
Deregulation. Deregulation. Deregulation.
And this matters to the rest of the world because…?
Of the over 3 billion internet users around the world, more that 286 million are based in the United States of America.
Such a drastic measure to hamper the free access of the internet that affects that big of a proportion of the internet users of the world will not go unnoticed by other countries, and similar measures may be taken in the future around the world, where premium charges can be offered, making the internet more costly as a result.
Without an internet that is equally accessible to everyone regardless of their income or where they are in the world, it will not be a platform where innovation or expression is encouraged.
Internet access will become yet another human right crippled by corporate greed.