When Microsoft announced that they would soon carry ESPN live and on-demand events on the Xbox 360, sports fans got excited. When they revealed that the service was free for Xbox LIVE Gold members, everyone cheered. I’m not a sports fan so this didn’t matter to me either way. But I found out something after that fact that’s a clear example of why we need net neutrality laws.
ESPN on Xbox requires that your internet service provider made a deal with Disney. Let me repeat that. You can not access some information on the internet unless your ISP made a behind-the-scenes deal. Many ISPs signed this deal. Many did not. Time-Warner customers, for example, will not be able to access this content. This is the beginning of a very dangerous path that will break the internet as we know it.
Let me paint you a picture. You’re on Comcast. Because of exclusive deals, you can’t see the CBS.com websites. You’re on FiOS, a Verizon backed ISP. AT&T and their affiliated websites will be blocked to you. And on and on and on. Another scenario is that your internet rates will increase. Why did your rate go up 100%, you’ll ask your provider. “Because we had to make deals with ESPN, Hulu, and others,” they’ll reply. Doesn’t matter whether or not you visit those sites. What does this sound like? It seems familiar. Oh yeah, the cable television business.
If science-fiction taught me anything, it’s that we can change the future. “There is no fate but what we make,” to quote Terminator 2. Let your senators and congressman know that you support net neutrality. Visit savetheinternet.com or at the very least Like them on Facebook. Or this could be our future: