Lines and Colors has gone dark today, please read why…

Thomas Nast
——
Comments about Net Neutrality can be filed with the FCC up until July 17, 2017.

When I posted this originally, I actually shut the site down and only this message was accessible against an otherwise black screen. I’ve reposted it as a regular article, both because it’s still vital, and so you can comment if you want.

Opposing viewpoints are welcome in this post’s comments if you actually have something valid to add to the discussion of Net Neutrality, but I won’t tolerate typical partisan political flaming, and off-topic comments will simply be removed.

-Charley
——

This is just a hint of what can happen to “little” sites like Lines and Colors if the big telecom companies, Congress and the current administration’s FCC chairman (a former Verizon lawyer) get their way, and sell your internet to the highest bidder.

They want to gut the Net Neutrality rules that, imperfect though they may be, offer some protection for sites like mine from being squeezed out of existance by requiring that the telecoms treat data from sites like this one essentially the same as sites for the big media companies.

The telecoms want to charge the big media companies more to give their sites preference, effectively turning the internet into a toll road for the benefit of powerful corporations, and pushing “insignificant” sites like Lines and Colors — who can’t afford to pay — into the slow lane, and eventually off the net altogether.

If you want the internet to just be more like TV, a one-way stream of whatever the big media companies want to spoon feed you (that you pay more and more for), than relax and do nothing.

But if you want sites like Lines and Colors to survive, and the telecoms to be restrained from treating your internet like their personal cash cow, at your expense, then we need to take action.

Given the current political climate of “corporations get whatever they want and screw the public”, it may be difficult, but our best chance to protect Net Nutrality right now is to create such an overwhelming response to the FCC that it becomes politically embarrasing to gut the rules at this point in time.

Please consider filing a comment with the FCC in support of keeping the Net Nutrality rules in place.

Here’s an article from Ars Technica on How to write a meaningful FCC comment supporting net neutrality.

If you’re pressed for time, here is a site that can automate the process for you: https://www.battleforthenet.com/#widget-learn-more

You can also use the form on the front of the Boing Boing site today.

If you’re still uncertain about why this is important, here is some additional informaition about the principle of Net Neutrality and why it’s vital to protect it.

Lines and Colors will be back tomorrow, and hopefully, with your help, in the future as well.

Thanks!

Charley

 

(Image above: Thomas Nast)

 

 
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10 Replies to “Lines and Colors has gone dark today, please read why…”

  1. I think this whole net neutrality protest is just alarmist. People fear change and always assume the worst. In reality the result is always the same: the fear turns out to be worse than the reality.

    ISPs already charge users for the speed of their bandwidth (download, upload, monthly limits, etc). This is their primary source of revenue. They DON’T charge content providers. So to say certain sites like Lines and Colors will be pushed of the Internet is frankly absurd.

    Nobody is going to block any websites. Your URL is under the control of ICANN, which is independent of the ISPs. It will always be accessible. And if I’m paying for high speed broadband, I will be able to assess it at high speed, period.

    ISPs have an incentive to make all websites accessible. If I cannot access the sites I want, why should I pay them for broadband? Blocking websites would offend paying customers. That’s why it won’t happen.

    As usual, everybody will lament about how the sky is about to fall, the change will come, the sky will not fall and life will continue pretty much as usual. This is the liberal version of conservatives lamenting that allowing gay people to serve in the military will result in the collapse of modern civilisation. Well, it happened, and it didn’t.

    Relax. Nothing will happen. Come back in a year and say whether I was right or not.

  2. Ertigan,

    Thanks for your comments. This is a common view, but I fear it is wrong. If there was not an incentive for telecoms and ISP’s to speed up some sites and slow down others, why would they be pushing so hard to remove these already less than restrictive rules?

    The telecoms already push their content over the content of rivals whenever possible. What incentive does Verizon, Comcast or AT&T have to give my site clear passage when they can push it aside to give CBS or 20th Century Fox a high-speed lane that they get paid millions to provide?

    It’s just human nature and economic pressure. The result is usually frighteningly predictable. This is the kind of thing that laws and government are supposed to protect us from.

    If you want an example of how corporate greed and outright congressional bribery can take public communications away from the public and give it to powerful interests, look into the history of how radio bandwith was given away to big media companies in the early 20th century.

  3. Charley

    When you say “The result is usually frighteningly predictable” I think that reinforces my point that opposition to this regulatory change is motivated by fear- the irrational fear of change.

    We’ve seen it over and over again- people project all sorts of terrifying motives to change agents and imagine an apocalypse that never comes. If Donald Trump is elected President, the sky will fall, the masses will migrate to Canada and the world will end.

    Well, after Trump was elected, the sun rose as normal the next day, people took their kids to school and life carried on pretty much as normal. Change is only scary in peoples’ minds.

    Also, this idea of big businesses as Satanic, malevolent entities exists only in the minds of people who generally have never actually worked in a big business. There’s no Illuminati hell bent on ruining the world and bringing the reign of the AntiChrist. Just organisations trying to make a profit by offering products and services people want.

    So maybe these ISPs might indeed as you say develop an additional revenue stream by charging some content providers more for more bandwidth. However, all free markets are in equilibrium; this means there are always opposing forces that ensure moderation in all things.

    One such force, I’ve already mentioned: Sure, Disney may pay Verizon for more bandwidth. But if I’m also paying Verizon to access Lines and Colors via high-speed broadband, there’s no way Verizon will block Lines and Colors and ruin my download experience. At best Disney might download a tiny bit faster than Lines and Colors.

    Also, Verizon has competitors. Ruining the surfing experience of end users is bad for business. Making it impossible for end users to access smaller websites that they like is bad for business. They won’t shoot themselves in the foot, for the very reasons you mention- it doesn’t make economic sense.

    So once again, I say this is a storm in a teacup. The change will happen and the day after, the sun will rise, people will take their kids to school and life will continue pretty much as before. At best a few big websites will be ensured fast downloads because they pay a fee. But everyone else- end users especially- will barely notice any difference. The activists and alarmists will feel a little silly for over-reacting,, and then look for another cause to rally behind to make themselves feel useful.

    Mark my words.

  4. Etrigan, nothingburger, huh? There seems to be concerted effort by the alt-right to go around posting “nothing is wrong, everything is just fine” messages all around the web. After years of constant bitching and moaning alt-righters are now trying to shut down any opposing voices after they rose to power.

    For some reason I’m always reminded of the infamous “I’m not a witch” video by Christine O”Donnell when I read these “Everything is just fine!” posts.

  5. Etrigan,

    I’m not sure why you think this is a simple matter of “fear of change”. Personally I welcome change — when it’s for the better. I’m less fond of change for it’s own sake (fashion, novelty), but I don’t fear it. I do, however, fear change for the worse — anyone sane should — and the gutting of the current Net Neutrality laws falls squarely into the last category for everyone but the telecoms and big media companies.

    No, corporations are not “evil”, and neither is a tornado, but that doesn’t mean either can’t be destructive. Corporations are mindless organism-analogs whose built-in “DNA” programs them to relentlessly seek profit, at whatever cost to those caught in their way. That’s why they can be frighteningly predictable.

    The actions of people can be frighteningly predictable as well. Look at the history of feudalism in the middle ages, or that of corporatism of the East India Company and the English rule those in the American colonies fought to free themselves from in the 18th century. Look at the corporate and government collusion in Germany in the 1930’s. Do you think unreasonable those people who “feared change” in Europe in prior to the First or Second World Wars, or those who “feared change” as the Romans expanded their domination through much of Europe in the first century BC?

    That’s what I mean by “frighteningly predictable”.

    I’ve been on the net since 1994, and for most of that time, I’ve been a professional website designer and developer. When I started, we had to convince companies that a website was a worthwhile investment and that the web wasn’t a fad for geeks that would disappear in a couple of years. I’ve watched the development of the technology and economics of the web with great fascination for all of that time, and I think I can reasonably say I know more about the internet and how it functions than most people.

    Rather than being a “tempest in a teapot”, this is a storm I’ve seen brewing for over 15 years, as I’ve watched the forces fighting for repression and control and those fighting for openness and free communication push at one another out of sight of the general public. (It’s essentially been the theme of my webcomic since 1999.)

    Those of us who have been watching this come to a head have been concerned that the few defenses left against corporate control and government repression (see China’s latest move to outlaw VPNs) are being battered.

    To think that Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and their like give one little shit if sites like Lines and Colors are swept away in their flood of profits is patently naive. The media companies want to control a one-way flow of “content” to you, and a one-way flow of profits to them, and the telecoms will gladly go along for their share of the carcass of the free internet.

    Mark my words as well. We’ll all look back on this at some point.

    I genuinely, desperately would like to believe that you are correct, but I’m sorry to say I know better, and if we don’t stop this process now, we’ll look back in regret when it’s too late to regain what we’ve lost.

  6. It may be true in life that often the fear is worse than reality and we may not see any real noticeable change inside of a year but when it happens in small incremental steps, the kind the average population does not see, that’s more scary and when we have to speak up.

    Economic pressure and corporate greed in the form of control go hand in hand. If cable companies have their way they will gain complete control over free network TV.

    It happens in little steps. I currently don’t have cable since I do not watch enough TV to justify the monthly cost and I don’t really miss it.
    Shows I do watch on free TV, series, I occasionally miss one episode and would watch them on my computer.
    Remember they aired on TV free. Then one day back in 2014 I could no longer watch without having a cable provider to ‘verify to watch’.
    A bit miffed at first I quickly became angry after writing KABC and getting a canned response you would expect out of a corporation.
    Citing rising costs, I was told TV service providers are key in making (their) content available.
    The telecom’s were more than happy to step in and get just a little more control.
    The end result? I could watch some episodes but not until a week after they aired. Even then only select episodes are available, never an entire series season so they are deciding or controlling content to some extent. Well, unless I sign up with a cable service provider. Gee thanks.

    Most will not notice these changes because what household doesn’t have cable or satellite TV, right?

    I would cite sports too. Over the years telecoms have been gaining more control in increments.
    I remember watching any game, playoff game or championship game in any sport any time. No more. Many of them are only on cable networks only. Pay or forget it.
    I do hope NBC manages to hold on to the Olympics which I have always been a fan of.
    I know I am not talking about the net but the parallels are the same.

    Yeah we may not see catastrophic change at once but the small invisible steps represent takeovers. Just take a little piece at a time and no one even notices.
    So maybe the internet is next.

  7. Interesting debate. I doubt that Lines and Colours would find itself a victim if net neutrality is abandoned. Because despite being a small site it is part of a corporate behemoth called Blogger an enormous expanse of advertising revenue. Blogger is owned by Google, thus probably has the muscle to ensure it is not downgraded. ps. Love the site, pop in to have a look every now and then.

  8. Thanks, for the comment, David. yes, that’s the hardest part to get across, the changes will deliberately be so gradual so as not to be noticed by the general public until it’s too late to roll back the policies.

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