Learning about net neutrality via the Whopper at Burger King seems like it’d be kind of an odd lesson, and possibly not truly appreciated. Well, most people didn’t care for and a few didn’t even appreciate it once the whole exercise had been explained. It even seemed like a couple of them didn’t even realize the gag as they kept talking about it afterward, though obviously everyone was eventually told the truth behind what was going on. The sad part about this is that it took getting scammed with a burger to even open people up to the idea of net neutrality.
So what is net neutrality? Speaking in the most basic of terms it’s the belief that internet providers should grant an open virtual gateway for people to find anything they might need without being able to block certain providers and sources. It also goes on to state that those same providers shouldn’t be able to discern between their customers based on who pays more and who pays less. In other words if a consumer pays less than a business does to the same provider the business shouldn’t be granted any more privileges or access than the consumer. The flow of information should be equal no matter who’s logging on.
Unfortunately that ideal has recently been under attack, well actually it’s been under attack for a while, but now that it’s been repealed a lot of folks are worried that their access to the internet is going to depend on the size of their wallet even more so than before. At this point Comcast and AT&T have already stated that they won’t be narrowing access to any sites at this time and plan to keep that promise in place for as long as they can. Since the neutrality laws were just repealed it’s likely that they don’t want to attract the attention of lawmakers and they certainly don’t want to alienate their subscribers. However the belief is that the prices will eventually go up no matter what but in much subtler ways.
The experiment conducted in the Burger King seems like a worst case scenario, which is what we can all hope is the case, but the fact is that a lot of people are already starting to worry that their providers will start putting the squeeze on their wallets in the days to come. As I just said above it might not happen any time soon since providers likely don’t want to cross the people that repealed the laws, but some providers might decide to take the risk and attempt to see just what they can get out of their subscribers in an attempt to make up some ground and try to compete with the bigger companies. At this point it seems more like they would begin to harm themselves rather than increase their business since many people that DO know about net neutrality have already expressed their dissent and disbelief.
Just imagine if you had to pay more or wait longer for the same burger. Now imagine going back to dialup, because that’s about how slow and limited it could get.