Net Neutrality is Dead. Long Live ‘Paid Privacy Protection Plans’

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Coming to an internet near you: ‘Paid Privacy Protection Plans’ (PPPP).

But at what price?

But First … Net Neutrality: A Brief Explanation

Before I explain that, let’s step back a bit and look at how the internet works:

Net-neutrality

In a neutral environment, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Charter (which owns Time Warner), ComCast and Verizon act as a gateway to the world wide web.

As a matter of reference, there are roughly 100,000,000 internet subscribers in the US and these 4 companies account for nearly 70% of all subscriptions.

It’s the same in Canada and elsewhere, where 3-4 companies act as the gateway to everything we search, read, watch and enjoy on a routine basis.

We’re charged in a number of different ways to access this gateway (example: speeds are limited, that total amount of download capacity is capped and so on), but we’re not charged to access specific sites and groups of sites or services are not usually censored or blocked from being viewed.

The ‘gatekeepers’ were not allowed to restrict access, nor were they allowed to give others privileged access to the market.

Of course, many people complain about the cost of access and how much it’s been rising in recent years, especially when we’re using multiple services to essentially get the same thing (ie. streamed TV via cable, streamed radio via Sirius, Internet service via phone or cable, phone service via cable/DSL/wireless).

When you add up phone, cable, internet and cell phone bills for a family of four, the cost can be anywhere from $200 to $500 per month, depending on the range of services that are chosen.

That’s $6,000 PER YEAR for a family of four.

It used to be that our ‘communication’ cost was a phone for a few bucks a month. TV and radio were free, as they were broadcast over the airwaves.

Life Without Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality as a practice was killed by the US government December, 2017.

Ajit Pai (Trump-appointed FCC Chairman) declared that “getting rid of government authority over the Internet is the exact opposite of authoritarianism. Government control is the defining feature of authoritarians, including the one in North Korea.”

This is akin to saying that it should be up to car companies to determine whether or not their vehicles are safe.

Of course, this kind of foolish libertarianism is going to kill access to information, but folks like Pai don’t seem to care.

The following is what the world without Net Neutrality will probably look like, but with more fees:

Net-neutrality-gone

It’s a simple summary, but hopefully you get the idea.

The gatekeepers have been converted to editors, censors and profiteers all in one swift stroke of the pen.

The New Boss(es)

You would think that the universe of media consumers would say ‘F-U FCC and US government for letting this happen. There’s not a chance in hell I’ll pay more for basic internet access’.

Wrong.

The stage is being set for the great conversion from a Net Neutral world to a paid access world.

Four critical but seemingly unrelated events have happened in the past few years that will crush our ability to access unbiased content and a competitive range of information in North America and the rest of the world:

  • The dismantling of Net Neutrality by the US FCC (mentioned above);
  • The ’emergence’ of ‘Fake News’;
  • Ongoing security demands concerning monitoring; and
  • Facebook’s ‘privacy’ issues brought up as a result of the 2016 US elections.

You could also consider adding the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) that so many marketers, service providers and manufacturers are getting VERY excited about.

I predict that these variables will be swirled about as tools to convince us that we should enlist for the new age of access to information via what I’m calling ‘Paid Privacy Protection Plans’ or PPPP or 4P.

Consumers – experiencing the anxiety and fear associated with the events and tactics being implemented and abused above – will sign up in droves to a paid service that will protect their privacy on a routine basis.

We’re being duped into thinking that non-mainstream sites are the DNA of ‘fake news’ and that the ‘traditional’ mainstream companies (eg. FOX or CNN) have our best interest at heart.

The ‘Facebook follies’ and interrogation of Mark Zuckerberg were nothing but a show for consumers at large to make us think that our privacy is at risk.

Ongoing security issues will also address the ‘spin’ that we’ll be protected if we sign up for something similar in concept to the 4P model. An example of this is Nexus, which merely requires all of your personal biometric information so that you can freely move between Canada and the US.

You’re trading everything about you for a wee bit of convenience.

It’s a gold-mine for industry. Not so much for you.

And the promise of privacy? Sure … it will last about as long as a financial quarter for any of the companies involved because they’ll be pressured to sell your content to the highest bidders, ie. advertisers and the security establishment.

Don’t agree? If you’re still connected to the last century and have a land-line, how many calls a week do you get from duct cleaners, Microsoft repairmen, travel companies or even the ‘Canada Revenue Agency’ threatening to send ‘sheriffs’ to your door to arrest you?

Welcome to the new regime.

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