Thousands Of Websites Stand Up For Net Neutrality

Today thousands of websites are protesting the US government's recent threats against net neutrality, a harbinger of the internet apocalypse. Internet behemoths such as Google, Amazon (which owns Twitch) and Reddit as well as smaller sites such as Ifixit and Plays.TV are participating in today's day of action against internet service providers' push for, among other things, the right to slow down access to or block competing websites. For gamers, rolling back net neutrality means gaming could get a lot more expensive.

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Right now, the internet is a utility, not a privilege. In 2015, Barack Obama introduced a mandate that forced US internet service providers such as AT&T, Spectrum and Verizon to give equal internet access to all consumers, preventing providers from charging more for "fast lanes" or throttling certain websites. For example, Verizon couldn't stifle access to Vox Media because it's a Comcast venture.

President Trump's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai wants to repeal Obama's net neutrality rules. He has said he favours "free and open internet", but he's concerned that the more that internet is regulated, the less incentive service providers will have to compete and improve. It's worth noting that Pai worked as general counsel at Verizon from 2001 to 2003. Other politicians may have more cynical reasons for opposing net neutrality: Cable companies have donated millions of dollars to hundreds of politicians in the most recent US election cycle, which speaks volumes about what democracy looks like in the internet age.

Net neutrality is something gamers should care about. In 2014, Kotaku's Jason Schreier warned that, without net neutrality, cable companies could "charge gaming networks more money" and "that cost will trickle down to us, the people who pay for those services in the first place". He added, "Worse, what if ISPs wind up separated into factions? What if Sony decides to cosy up with Comcast, paying them a pretty penny to ensure that PSN runs smoothly, while Microsoft won't give? Imagine having to pick a new gaming system based on what will run more quickly on your network — this could give a whole new meaning to the term 'console wars'." That same year, Kotaku's Nathan Grayson reported that a slew of famous game developers who worked on titles such as Far Cry 3, Ridiculous Fishing and Torment spoke out about what net neutrality meant to them and their industry.

As Hyper Light Drifter's Teddy Diefenbach (now at Square Enix) said in 2014:

Paid prioritisation for the internet indicates that the landscape of it will shift immensely, if the rules are instated. The internet could end up resembling fractured real-estate markets, or even cable television services (disgusting) where users pay a higher fee for premium content (streaming video, large market places), more than the level and relatively open repository of content and data it is now... An even larger implication: The somewhat anemic (though changing) digital distribution model on consoles as a viable future would suffer as well. Costs go up to provide fast enough access (where Sony or Microsoft pay for the quicker lanes) to the gigs of data required for a modern game, and those costs get passed on to consumers and possibly publishers; one more knock against a model that platform holders are already somewhat trepidatious about.

So, that's what's up with all your favourite sites talking about net neutrality today.


Comments

    Meh.

      Meh?! What do you mean by that?! You may have to pay something like $90 a month to just watch YouTube and even if you don't pay, then companies like Comcast can slow your internet down to a crawl. Do you want the internet to change to something much, much worse? Here, this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K88BU3kjZ-c&t=313s can help you understand better on why this is a huge deal.

        Doesn't affect Australians though. We already deal with ISPs having deals with sites like Netflix and Steam.

          Oh yes it will..how can you be so shortsighted?? Did you even bother to watch the video linked by the person above? google "how can net neutrality affect other countries". You must be a troll or really uneducated.

            Someone has a different opinion to yours. Must be a troll or uneducated. The sky is falling, the sky is falling.

          Doesn't affect Australians?! Huh? Of course it affects Australians. If it gets passed in US there is a good chance that Australia as a peer will follow or other counties, and even if it doesn't the increased costs will affect game prices, console prices, possibly even hardware prices. As those companies try to recoup their costs.

          It's 2017 things don't just happen in isolation, especially amid peer countries. The deals our isps have with Netflix and Steam aren't like they are describing. At the moment Netflix has a price unless Y company offers a special price. Customers aren't being forced to pay extra for the same thing, some people are just getting it cheaper. That's not the same at all.

          Last edited 14/07/17 1:32 am

            Australia doesn't have net neutrality and never has, main reason it isnt a large issue is that multiple ISP's share the same lines so competition and the ability to switch ISP's means they wont do anything to risky as they may lose customers

        Maybe if you carefully explained to him that they could charge for access to pornhub by the GB he would be a little less "meh"

    What kind of impact would this have to us?

      If we fail and companies like Comcast get what they want, we may be seeing paywalls behind your favorite sites, and if you don't pay then they can slow them down to a crawl. For example, you could be paying $90 a month just to watch YouTube, Twitch and check reddit. This can also halt free speech and expression and even cause companies and even countries to fall behind. Net Neutrality is what we have now, where every site is equal.

        Australia is unfortunately pretty used to being behind as far as internet goes.

        More insidiously, companies will start paying Comcast to prefer their data over that of their rivals, which means it becomes harder for new players to enter the market and reduces competition. It really gives internet providers massive power over the companies that use their services (which is more or less everyone). It's kind of frightening.

      we will rout around america and use non american servers, this means gaming pings will go up because we are either going around or using EU

    I watched an episode of A Dose of Buckley recently about this, and it was interesting that here in Australia sometimes ISPs aren't Net Neutral.

    He quoted the example of unmetered content from ISPs, e.g. Netflix and Steam. As those companies had deals with the ISP for unmetered content, consumers are more likely to buy from them instead of Stan or GOG.

    I always thought that unmetered content was awesome, but it makes you think.

    So there are definitely two sides to this for consumers.

      Fellow Dose of Buckley fan :) Nice to see one on here

        Doc Buckley is always on the money.

          I don't know he is just another angry cynical guy on YouTube using the excuse of humour to sound like the cleverest person in the room.

            That may be so, but I think it totally works. :P

      Not really, maybe in the country that might matter but most ISP have such high plans these days, metered stuff barely makes a dent. Even in ultra hd. It's just an advertising gimmick more than a seriously concerning development like this could bring about.

        I'm on iiNet near the middle of Sydney, and I'd have to pay an extra $20-40 a month if they started counting Steam downloads towards my quota. I'd expect about 80% of my monthly quota usually gets used by [email protected] Quotas are definitely still an issue for some - I could upgrade to an unlimited plan, but it would cost nearly twice what I'm currently paying, so I don't consider it to be worthwhile.

    I think us techies are creating this path and giving the big companies ideas to make more money

    hey we are working it all out for them and they dont have to do anything

    stop talking about it, if they do it so be it we will not use them.

      Please, this money making, competition crushing idea has been around since before data was actually flowing through the networks. It is the holy grail of money and power for a company like Comcast yet the public know it is a very bad idea—that is why it is still being pushed/lobbied for (in a very "hey, don't worry about what we are doing, its just boring stuff" way) still.

        NBN seems to have adopted it as well with POI cvc's

    I'm glad there's at least some discussion and the 2014 court case, since in Australia we have zero net neutrality and already are infringed upon.

      We have speed neutrality at least. What they are talking about is if YouTube was faster if you were with Telstra as opposed to Optus. Or if PSN was faster and more stable if you are with one and not the other. We dont have that in Aus. What we have is around metering and some ISPs not 'charging' you to browse certain services. Big difference.

        Haha we actually DO have that in Aus.

        There's tons of data floating around, with examples like Telstra throttling Netflix a lot when NBN came out; "we are #1 ISP for netflix!" bs; youtube having ISP ranking system with not all equal; exclusive CDNs to certain ISPs, and/or routing.

        In addition, we have the lovely stuff like blocking of TPB for (official reason, it's shown when you try to access it) "allowing copyright infringement - which by extension can apply to absolutely any website at all. tl;dr gov can and will block any website they feel like, it's happening right now.

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