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Today, sites like Netflix, Amazon and PornHub are protesting in favor of net neutrality. Sites are putting up banners, pop-ups, slow down their sites — and some are even going offline. But why? What exactly is net neutrality? And what does it have to do with the LGBTQ community?
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality (“network neutrality” if you’re nasty) just means that your internet service provider (ISP) can’t change their speed on sites they don’t support. Basically — with net neutrality, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at the New York Times or some really gross porn. Your ISP won’t throttle your speed if you’re looking at the porn … or if your ISP is run by a Trump fan, they can’t block the New York Times.
Alternately, without net neutrality, your ISP could make sites it particularly likes load faster. If we take our hypothetical Trumpista ISP owner, they could make a site like Breitbart load in a flash, while the Washington Post is blocked — or not blocked, but throttled so the site loads so slowly it’s unreadable.
Basically, with net neutrality, the internet should sound … pretty normal. After all, we’ve had net neutrality in the United States since the beginning of the internet.
But that could soon change — the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has started proceedings to repeal net neutrality via legislation called “Restoring Internet Freedom.” Much like the GOP’s various “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts“, the FCC’s proposed law changes would actually limit freedom.
Why Is Net Neutrality So Important?
We’ve talked about the free speech side of why net neutrality is important, but that’s only one aspect. One of the other big things with net neutrality is how it encourages innovation — something the GOP should like.
For example: Many ISPs are also cable companies like Comcast. Without net neutrality, a company like Comcast could throttle or block a site like Netflix. After all, streaming companies are a huge problem for cable TV. We all know someone who’s “cut the cord” — if you haven’t already done so yourself.
Without net neutrality, any new business that potentially threatens ISPs or other businesses owned by the same company could be murdered in the crib. Netflix wouldn’t have taken off if it was impossible to stream video from them without constant buffering.
Why Should the LGBTQ Community Care About Net Neutrality?
Hornet, the parent company of Unicorn Booty, is a technology company. The center of Hornet’s operation is a gay social network. And, of course, Unicorn Booty does a number of stories about the LGBTQ community. It’s kinda our thing, y’know? But if your ISP is run by a homophobe, they could keep you from using Hornet to meet guys, or keep you from reading news on Unicorn Booty.
But even beyond that — the internet is a place for community. If you’re in a small town, it may be hard to be out — but online, you can be. You can find resources to help you come out in real life. Or even leave your small town for the big city.
Or if you’ve been out for a while and living in a big city, there are still LGBTQ health issues. If you’re trans, you can easily use the Internet to find a trans-friendly doctor.
If the FCC’s proposed changes go through, all this could end. We’d be at the mercy of our ISPs determining what we can and cannot see.
We urge everyone to go to BattleForTheNet.com. They’ve set things up so you can easily email and call the FCC with your statements. They’ve even prepared things that you can say.
And if you don’t believe us about how important this is, maybe you’ll believe John Oliver:
Please comment, and hurry. The deadline is July 17. Let the FCC know how much net neutrality means to you.
Featured photo by Henrik5000 via iStock.