Why Loss of Net Neutrality Hurts Democracy – Consortiumnews

The principle of every person having equal access to the Internet represented a strong pillar of modern democracy — and its removal represents another victory for profit-dominated plutocracy, as Dennis J Bernstein explains.

 

By Dennis J Bernstein

Despite its importance to a functioning democracy in the Twenty-first Century, many people’s eyes still glaze over at the uttering of the term Net Neutrality. However, whenever there is a clear explanation available, people — Republicans and Democrats alike — overwhelmingly support the concept and understand that, once again, it will be big business and corporations that will benefit greatly from the purging of the concept of Net Neutrality, and poor and working-class people and their families who will suffer from the recent decision to end it.

A protest in favor of Net Neutrality in 2015. (Flickr Backbone Campaign)

For an in-depth primer on the subject, I spoke with Professor Victor Pickard about the implications of the recent actions taken by the Republican-led Federal Communication Commision. Pickard is associate professor at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book America’s Battle for Media Democracy.

Dennis Bernstein: We turn now to the issue of net neutrality and its very serious implications for Internet users everywhere.  Welcome  Professor Pickard.  Could you start by giving us an extended definition of net neutrality? People’s eyes still tend to glaze over when you raise the topic of net neutrality.

Victor Pickard: In a way, it is an unfortunate term.  We can thank Timothy Woo for coining it, but I think we’re stuck with it at this point.  Essentially, it means an open Internet.  Net neutrality is the safeguard that prevents Internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast from interfering with your online content.  It prevents them from slowing down or blocking content or offering what is known as “paid prioritization.”  This is where they set up slow and fast lanes and a kind of payola system where they try to shake down content creators and force them to “pay to play” in order to load and stream more…

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