b&b190 What Net Neutrality is and why you should care

Net Neutrality has recently been repealed on the federal level, and several states and organizations are fighting to keep it in place, but what is it?

Sarah Aoun, data activist, operational security trainer, and Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow, and Bex Hong Hurwitz, maker of technology for social justice, and co-founder of Research Action Design which helps build grassroots power digitally, co-founded Tandem. They talk about how the restriction of data limits people, the economic and political incentives behind this repeal, and what the best and worse case scenarios could be in the future.

They can be found at Tandem.work

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Music featured in this episode:

Net Neutrality by O’hene Savant
Stay Free by Fury Flamez
Net Neutrality – Hands Off the Internet by stellar art wars

Highlights:

Bex Hong Hurwitz: At its biggest, net neutrality is this concept that all information that’s moving across the internet should be able to move at the same speeds, like at the same kinds of priorities moving through the structure of the internet.

Bex Hong Hurwitz: We’re currently, regulation-wise, in a net neutrality situation, but in reality-wise, the internet is subject to the same differences in money and power that the rest of the world is.

Bex Hong Hurwitz: With Obama’s FCC, [internet] was legally classified as a utility, and so then it had to be sort of this net neutral that we’re talking about.

Sarah Aoun: Repealing net neutrality would mean that NPR…will be allowed to pay for faster access to the internet, so will pay Verizon to allow their customers to get to their website faster, so that what ends up happening is that the folks who can’t afford to pay them will just get a much much slower access to their content. So for me as a consumer of the internet, if I wanna visit let’s say it would take me, I don’t know, 3 minutes to load…versus the NPR site which would take a second to load.

Bex Hong Hurwitz: The big internet companies, you see them standing up against this reversal of net neutrality, and it’s because it puts this power with the ISPs and starts to cost them money. So it starts to cost Netflix extra money to go fast.

Sarah Aoun: If you don’t have access to the internet, you just don’t have access to information in this day and age. You don’t have access to information. You don’t have access to education. You don’t have access to help…so at this point we talk about the internet, access to data, as basic human rights.

Sarah Aoun: a good thing to remember with the internet and anything digital, any programs or anything…there are humans behind it. There are humans making those decisions, and humans are inherently biased one way or another.

Bex Hong Hurwitz: There are places where Facebook, as a company that’s a platform, also got to cut a deal with a provider, so that if people use Facebook that traffic is cheaper for them. So like you might get a phone service where your Facebook usage is free. So in that way it forces you onto Facebook more. It gives Facebook more money because it has your eyeballs more of the time and can sell you more ads.