Friday, December 15, 2017

Trust the Dice: Stand For Net Neutrality

By: Selina Tropiano

Today, we won’t be watching a foreign film. Instead, we’ll be talking about something much more important: Net Neutrality.

Undoubtedly, by now, you’ve heard plenty about this issue. In fact, you might be getting incredibly sick of it. I get that. Never-the-less, I hope you read on anyway.

For those of you who don’t know, the FCC repealed net neutrality mid-day yesterday. It was an appalling bit of news that made the rounds and filled a lot of people with dread. But why? What’s the big deal about net neutrality anyway?

Clearly, I could go into how a lack of net neutrality would affect Trust the Dice. I could remind you that we’re a small blog that doesn’t take money from directors or producers in order to review their films. Even though we work through the use of Netflix, we’re in no way considered to be representatives of them and we’re certainly not sponsored by them. A lack of net neutrality could easily mean that we would be required to pay a lot more than what we spend on our domain.

Quite frankly, even with ads, we don’t make enough money for that. Pretty much every cent that we’ve made through Trust the Dice gets pumped right back into the blog.

If the above scenario happened, we would likely cease to exist. Along with the majority of other small blogs that you follow, and possibly some of the bigger ones.

That’s not the problem, though.

Admittedly, it’s easy to focus on the part that could affect my site… but there’s a much bigger issue at stake.

A lack of net neutrality turns the internet into a space that’s ‘pay-to-win.’ Until now, it’s been a space dominated by freedom of speech, but people could easily use this new ‘pay-to-win’ system to shut down anyone that disagrees with them.

I will give you an example.

One of my articles greatly angered someone involved in a project I was talking about. Since then, they’ve located my phone number and made it their mission to prank call me – and have their friends prank call me – numerous times a day from many different numbers. This has been going on for nearly a year and a half now.

Clearly, that’s a really childish way to react to a bad review… but without net neutrality, it gets worse. The person involved has more money than I do, that’s just a matter of fact. They could easily pay to have this blog, or any of my social media sites, shut down or slowed to a crawl.

Money speaks in this new internet world.

My example above is just a small way that a lack of net neutrality could affect our freedom of speech. Have a complaint about the president or his enemies? Too bad. Get into an argument with a politician? Good luck signing on tomorrow. Leave a bad review on Rotten Tomatoes? Post something negative about a fast food restaurant? Call out an insurance company on Twitter? Anyone, at any time, including trolls, could pay to have your internet experience destroyed.

It is the first dent in attempting to break through our freedom of speech. It doesn’t demolish it, but it sets a very bad precedent. One that could be used to further prevent the population from speaking up.

That is why the FCC vote fills people with dread.

Luckily, the fight is NOT over.

The people who made this decision, would prefer if we all thought this was the end. The repeal passed, so all is lost. Except, it’s not.

The repeal doesn’t actually go into effect immediately. Before that can happen, it has to hit the Federal register, which will open it to the possibility of lawsuits. Already, many states in the U.S. have expressed an interest in suing the FCC over their decision. Among them are: New York, California, and Washington.

That means we’re not alone. Some of the state governments have been listening, and there are those among them willing to fight alongside, and for, their people.

Don’t be fooled, either, when the FCC comes out in a month and starts pointing out that the internet hasn’t gone ‘pay-to-win’ yet. It can’t actually happen that quickly. The rules have to go through all kinds of steps before they can be activated… and that could take many months. The repeal could be tied up in those aforementioned lawsuits for even longer than that.

We cannot be tricked by the greed of the FCC and their lobbyists, because we know we can still help.

Unfortunately, politicians seem to be among our only hope. That might not fill you with confidence, and I don’t blame you, because it doesn’t do much for me either.

You have to speak to your congressman. You have to urge them to understand that this is not an issue that can be swept under the rug. This is not a small freedom that you will allow the internet-version of Martin Shkreli to rip away from you.

2018 is an election year. Politicians, especially right now, want to come out for the people in order to remain popular enough to win their respective elections. We, the people, need to make it more expensive for them to ignore us than to listen. Which means every single person with an opinion on the subject needs to act.

It’s difficult to believe that we can make a difference. Each one of us is just one. One person versus the entire United States government can be a frightening thought. That’s why we need to rely on each other right now.

This vote passed because of how divided we are. Democrats can’t trust Republicans, Republicans can’t trust Democrats. Everyone’s either racists or a snowflake. We’re all libtards or cold-hearted freaks. Politics has forced us to our respective corners and we’re all too wrapped up in it all to walk into the middle of the room and see that things are being done without our input because we’re allowing it. Because we’re too divided to agree on anything.

Regardless of what side of politics you’re on; regardless of your race, creed, sexuality, or station in life… this subject affects you. If you’re rich, there’s always going to be someone richer. If you’re a Republican and you want to say something negative about Hilary Clinton, you could be shut down just as quickly as a Democrat saying something negative about Trump.

This should be the line we draw in the sand. This should be our hill to die on. Because this isn’t about whether or not you’re going to get to watch Netflix or play World of Warcraft. It’s not even about whether or not you’ll be able to continue keeping in touch with your Uncle that moved to Australia. It’s about a civil right being slowly sliced away from you. And THAT is not ok.

Call your congressman. Tell them this IS the issue for this election.

Be outraged. Be active. Be loud.

Or be silenced.

It’s your call.

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