The Danger of Losing Net Neutrality

We interrupt your regularly scheduled commentary on learning and performance to bring you an important message.

This blog generally deals with learning and how people use technology to help themselves or others learn and perform their jobs more efficiently.

In that context, the subject of Net Neutrality might seem like it an odd fit for this blog, as on the surface it has very little to do with organizational learning. But the reality is that the ramifications of the Net Neutrality discussion affects almost every aspect of our lives, including our work as learning and performance professionals. The Net Neutrality discussion isn’t about defending the internet of today; it’s about saving the internet of tomorrow.

Net Neutrality in a Learning Industry Context

net-neutralityImagine a future where you develop an incredibly high-tech program that delivers a learning experience unlike any other. It’s all cloud-based, and requires huge amounts of data transfer for it to be effective. Through testing your broadband internet speeds handled to application beautifully, and now you are planning to roll it out to thousands of locations across the globe. Now imagine that shortly after launch, people start complaining about the way the application is running. You do speed tests and realize that the speed at which data is running now is much slower than it was running last week. You contact your internet service provider and are told “You’re going to need to pay a premium if you want us to give your data preferred speed on our network.”

That’s an extremely trivial example of why losing Net Neutrality is so dangerous. It’s giving internet service providers the right to create tiers of access to customers  – which would completely void out the level playing field the internet in many ways represents.

The internet in it’s current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that. – Jon Oliver

A Word of Caution

I need to preface the rest of this post with a critical word: bullshit.

I know some people are sensitive to curse words, so I do not take the decision to include one in this post lightly. I throw that word out there for two reasons.

First, bullshit is a word that completely represents what is going on right now with the government and internet service providers. We must act now and have our voices be heard to defend the internet from what amounts to a corporate takeover of a neutral space. However, in order to voice your concerns about maintaining Net Neutrality, you must first understand what it is, and what the risk losing it really represents.tumblr_n5skq0BZZN1r55d2io1_500

Understanding what’s at stake is the second reason I bring the word bullshit into this post. Yesterday I watched what may very well be the best 13 minutes of video I have ever watched online. It’s a video from the show Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver. In the video, Jon perfectly explains why protecting Net Neutrality is so critical to the future of the internet, and the economy in general. He also explains why this is so wrong, the ridiculous nature of what is currently happening, and how it is perverting the future of the internet.

The video lays out the Net Neutrality discussion in completely simple terms, peppered with a huge amount of humor. Everyone should watch this video, and encourage others to watch it as well. However, if you’re sensitive to curses, be aware that there is some profanity in the video. If you’re OK with profanity, stop reading, scroll to the bottom, and watch the video. Even if you are sensitive to profanity, I encourage you to still watch the video to learn about the situation. I’ve embedded the video to the end of this post.

For those that don’t want to watch the video, here are a few points to be aware of:

A Call to Action

I’m going to start with what the video ends with – a call to action. The FCC is currently asking for the comments from the public as it relates to Net Neutrality. You can go to and share your thoughts on why maintaining an open internet is so critical for the future. This is our opportunity to avoid this travesty. I encourage everyone to go and have their voices heard.

FCCNOTE: Need more proof that this is an important topic? Take a look at the number of filings Net Neutrality has generating as compared to the topic with the second highest number of filings. Net Neutrality has over 47,000 filings in the last 30 days (as of 6/3), the second highest total is just over 1,800.

Documented Proof of Monopolistic Behavior

Cable companies maintain that they would never slow down the existing internet; they would only make available a “fast lane”. There’s evidence that this is not the case. At the 3:56 point of the video, a data-driven story is shared.

Netflix was in negotiations with Comcast to get preferred access to Comcast customers for it’s content. During negotiations, the access Comcast customers had to Netflix was well below other providers – and the speed worsened during negotiations. It wasn’t until Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for preferred access that the speed skyrockets.

That has all the ingredients of a mob shakedown.


Why isn’t this a bigger deal?

The video also explores an important question – if everyone is against this, why is it moving forward? There are a number of reasons posed in the video, including the lobbying power of the cable companies and an alarming number of ties between cable companies and the government. But there was one line that really resonated with me that sums it up best.

If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.

It’s very true. The discussion of Net Neutrality is filled with legal jargon that bores the average person to death. Even the phrase “Net Neutrality” reeks of passiveness. If the discussion was titled something like “Preventing Cable Companies from taking over the Internet” (Jon Oliver suggests a much more accurate title), there would at least be a call of action attached to it.

People need to understand what’s at risk, and that’s what I love about the Jon Oliver video. It’s entertainment at it’s core, but it also perfectly explains what’s at risk, and what we as citizens can do about it before it’s too late. Have your voices be heard. Visit the url below today, share your thoughts, and then encourage others to do the same.

Thanks for reading, and for taking action. I’ll now return the blog to it’s regularly scheduled programming.

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