Net neutrality is over.
There was a lot of protest
against this, and a great deal of disconsternation over things like a million supposed comments to the FCC
favoring the end of net neutrality coming from foreign hackers phonying up the emails of US citizens (many of whom have complained to deaf ears over the theft of their identity). But the deck is well-stacked, and there was really not a whole lot anybody can legally do to stop the government
agencies from carrying out the will of the Trump administration on this one. You may have some questions....
How will this affect Everything2?
Good one. Well, the text
-heavy website is actually a pretty minor consumer of bandwidth
, so in theory, an Internet service provider
ought not have much objection to continuing to "carry" it. That's going to be the new way of things, by the way -- instead of any website
being accessible from any Internet-connected computer
, carriers will pick and choose which websites to "carry" like TV companies do with cable channels. In this metaphor
, E2 is kind of like one of those low-end local public TV stations where anybody can get five minutes of airtime once in a while. The servers hosting all the E2 stuff will still exist, but it will be up to your Internet company whether they will let you access them. Access is going to gravitate towards profit
, so unless either a website is willing to pay to be carried (which entities like Google
(which happens to own bandwidth-guzzler YouTube
) and Amazon
will be able to do), or customers are willing to agitate for that website to be carried (ie to threaten to switch to another ISP if it isn't carried), then the providers are either going to charge excess fees for bandwidth spent visiting "off-plan" websites, or simply not provide access to them at all.
This incidentally creates tremendous incentives for the major media companies like Disney
and Fox Corp.
, to acquire internet service providers. In some of the more liberal areas, expect to see municipalities offering some sort of free internet service to their denizens. It is quite possible that some enterprising technophiles will figure out more accessible paths to diy
Internet. But to snap back to the general reality of things, most people will continue to go to one of a handful of big corporate providers, and those providers will decide which websites are worth carrying, probably employing some kind of algorithm
weighing popularity and typical bandwidth used per visit (since it is well-nigh impossible to examine each website individually for such evaluation). E2 effectively has zero power to force its carriage, so those who want the website to be accessible will have to figure out how to game those algorithms to put E2 over whatever bar is calculated for inclusion.
Is this the end of the Internet?
This is the end of the everybody-can-access-everything Internet. Where it goes from here is anybody's guess, but remember that these things always have unintended consequences
and unforeseeable twists. Remember, the popular all-access Internet we have enjoyed to this date was only born about 25 years ago. If it was a person it would barely be legal to buy a drink. And, Internet or no, technology
is evolving at ever-accelerating rates, so that even had this die not been cast, things were already going to be unrecognizably different a decade hence.
There is an outside chance that the increased control machines will have over what we can access (again, through algorithms which quickly become too complex for humans to even decipher on the fly) will lead to an even faster robot
revolution, and whether this means an end to mankind or an evolution of mankind is equally up in the air. But just precautionarily, I for one welcome our new robot overlords.