I rarely bring up social issues or politics on this blog. As a designer and fabricator, I'm most comfortable talking about design. And fabrication. But sometimes an issue arises that is so fundamentally important to both my business and my clients, addressing it is a matter of social responsibility. The preservation of Net Neutrality is one such issue.
In its short history, the internet has been one of mankind's most significant innovations, enabling both free speech and free markets. The doctrine of Net Neutrality is crucial to that freedom. In very basic terms, Net Neutrality is a requirement that internet service providers (ISPs) treat all the data their customers access equally. If you buy internet service from Comcast, anything you access online, whether it's streaming video from Netflix, music from Pandora, or plan and pricing information for one of Comcast's competitors, has to be handled and delivered the same way, at roughly the same speeds. (A more thorough description is available here.)
A recently proposed FCC rule change would eliminate this doctrine. Instead of a free and open internet, customers in the United States would be subjected to a pay-to-play version of the web, with the content they access determined by the highest bidder. The grand marketplace of the internet would become a toll plaza, with small businesses and startups essentially shut out. The only winners would be American ISPs, who already offer some of the slowest and most expensive internet access in the industrialized world.
Add your signature to the petition on whitehouse.gov. Send an email to your congressman or senator. Because without Net Neutrality, you might not be able to.