Net neutrality and its challengers

 

How many people would turn down an Internet rate of unlimited data for a flat fee? Nobody in his right mind. That would mean watching all the videos and downloading all those heavy files for as long as you wish, or you can put up with.

But what may be at stake is, ironically, a free-market principle. And it looks like with the change of government in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission may do away with “net neutrality.” That is, the principle that all data transmitted through the Internet should be treated equally regardless of source.

The not-so-nice aspect of it is that you would have to pay to preserve that democratic principle. In other words, those telecommunications behemoths that offer zero rates for unlimited data might hold you captive to their own content traveling first over the ether. If all those massive data streams come for free, who cares, right?

As it happens, a lot of people do. That’s why India said “Thanks, but no thanks,” to Facebook’s offer for massive connectivity in the country for free. And that’s Snapchat creator Snap Inc. is concerned about the potential end of neutrality. In its IPO filing, Snap listed the end of net neutrality as a likely threat to its long term prospects. “If a company potentially valued at $25 billion is worried about having to pay carriers to be competitive with other zero-rated peers, imagine what these changes might mean to a startup at the seed stage, with only a few million in investment,” wonders Christopher Mims, at The Wall Street Journal.

So, beware those contracts. You may be signing away your soul to a mighty giant. Or in less hyperbole, freedom on the web—including yours—may be at stake.

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