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Net Neutrality

An animation to explain what it is and why we need it

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In 2018, US law-makers moved to end net neutrality, one of the founding pillars of the internet. It may have felt like a distant, complicated or purely technical thing, but in fact it could make the web worse for everyone. But what is net neutrality? Why does it matter? And why should we fight it? Well…

Animation: Chris McDonnell / Music: Adam Roth & Allen Blickle

Will: Nice video. I liked the bit when they're all happily gathered. But I don’t really get Net Neutrality...

Kaela: Well, it’s pretty important. The FCC has a plan to give ISPs more control over how things are seen online...

Will: Who talks like this? ISP? FCC? 😴😴😴

Kaela: Sorry, I get carried away. But yeah. ISPs. Internet Service Providers. The company you pay to give you access to the internet. And the FCC is the Federal Communications Commission, which, in this case, decides what rules the ISPs have to play by.

Will: Is that the same FCC that wouldn’t let Eminem be?

Kaela: What an odd 2002 reference.

Will: I think The Eminem Show is quite underrated. But sorry, what’s changed?

Kaela: Under net neutrality, the idea was that “all data is equal.” So your ISP gives you the same access, at the same speeds, to whatever you want to see online. Whether that’s Netflix, Facebook or some Eminem fan forums...

Will: Low blow. But now?

Kaela: Now, the FCC has decided that your internet provider can slow down or speed up your browser depending on what you’re accessing. Essentially, they can interfere with the way we use the web. Or more likely they can charge us for premium sites we want to use more than others. Like Eminem fan for-

Will: Stop it. This sounds terrible. Why would they do that?

Kaela: They say it’s good for competition and innovation.

Illustration by Chris McDonnell

30 minutes later…

Kaela: Are you still there?

Will: Sorry I was watching #Beychellaagain. That voice. That choreography. The Solange dance off. What were we talking about?

Kaela: Net neutrality.

Will: Oh yeah. I don’t think it’ll affect me really.

Kaela: But that’s the whole thing! How would you feel if in the middle of watching Queen B, your internet slows down and the video keeps buffering?

Will: Why would you even imagine such a thing?

Kaela: Because that’s exactly what might happen. Imagine if Coachella was sponsored by a big tech company, but your ISP had a deal with a rival tech company. They might restrict access to that content.

Will: Even the bit when Destiny’s Child came out?

Kaela: Yes. Even that bit.

Will: But isn’t this really about big companies and their deals with other big companies?