The recent Internet Day of Action for net neutrality illustrates how intensely consumers feel about net neutrality protections, as more than 50,000 people, websites, and organizations demonstrated in favor of a free and open internet. Many Internet Service Providers claim that they, too, want net neutrality, but with one exception: they don’t want any rules that can be enforced against them. Asking giant internet providers like Comcast to behave is, quite frankly, implausible given their history of anti-competitive behavior.
Today, reports indicate that Verizon Wireless reduced connection speeds for mobile subscribers accessing streaming video services as part of a “video optimization” systems test. The company issued no warnings to consumers prior to testing, but claims “the customer video experience was not affected”.
Democracy has become a daily visceral online experience. When Philando Castile was shot by a Minnesota police officer his girlfriend’s first instinct was to start broadcasting. Diamond Reynolds chose to live-stream the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live, sharing the graphic cries of her four-year-old daughter with over 3.2 million viewers. Live streaming is transforming the growth of citizen journalism, providing a distressing view of shootings like these, and empowering citizens to share their story without the fear of censorship.
We all hate running out of mobile internet data. The solution? Unlimited mobile data plans that are usually too expensive for the average consumer, or in many places simply not available. In these circumstances, zero-rating (where a network operator offers unlimited data for specific applications or services) may appear to be an appealing answer. But, as economists like to say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.