Net Neutrality and Harry Potter

Umbridge: Now let me make this quite plain. You have been told that a certain Dark Wizard is at large once again. This… is… a… lie!

Harry: It’s not a lie, I saw him! I fought him!
Umbridge: Detention, Mr. Potter!
Listening to this passage in Harry Potter made me feel like it could be replaced like this:
Ajin Pai as Umbridge
Rest of the US who cares about Net Neutrality is Harry.
Each time I have heard him speak on NPR, I find I am just as enraged as Harry is in this part of the book.  Pai is trying to tell the world that consequences of the loss of net neutrality under the FCC is a lie, while those people like me (IT professionals) are yelling, “It’s NOT A LIE!”
Because throttling back and limiting content by the ISP providers has happened.  What is a lie is why the FCC took on net neutrality in the first place. They did not do it because the liberals are worry warts making shit up.  They did it because there had been abuse to the point where something needed to be done since the current approach was not making it perfectly plain that to limit content or throttle it back was not okay.  And the approaches the FCC tried to take in the past were not holding up to court challenges.
Just like Umbridge is playing a teacher when she is actually just a government official, Pai is playing an internet and technology expert when he is really just an attorney.  Umbridge is teaching to further the cause of governmental policy in the school, and one cannot help but wonder if Pai is actually just furthering the cause for his former employer, Verizon, in the FCC.
Before anyone says I am making connections where there are none, I should mention that Verizon continues to be accused of throttling back Netflix and even YouTube content for their customers.  Three years ago, after Netflix paid both Comcast and Verizon money to keep them from throttling their content – Verizon still did it (which Comcast did not).  Today, a quick google search will show you there are tools that allow you to test to see if your ISP is also throttling Netflix content.  Hell, there are even articles on how you can try to get around throttling efforts by your ISP if you suspect it is happening.
But, I forgot – that’s a lie.
Another lie is that providers will not block content on their network.  In 2012, AT&T was in a lot of hot water when it blocked FaceTime from being used by customers who did not have a particular data plan.  Specifically, they wanted to force those with unlimited data plans to switch to a shared data plan.  So, to put the pressure on, they blocked FaceTime.  This really sounds a lot like what people are afraid of, doesn’t it?   AT&T has said since Net Neutrality has been overturned that they won’t do anything bad – they promise to honor net neutrality.  Until it affects their bottom line again when a technology change makes them want to restructure their offerings and force people to move, I’m sure.
Do I believe that overturning this FCC net neutrality rule will drive innovation and encourage the next Facebooks and Googles and all?  Not really.  I would argue it could prevent new internet-based companies from rising.  If you look at the time period he is referring to – mid to late 90s – as a time that saw great innovation, you will see a time when the internet was a very different place.  Dial-up was still happening.  Your primary providers for the Internet was AOL or CompuServe or the like.  DSL started emerging soon after.  Wireless was starting to become a thing.  And broadband (aka cable internet) was started.
What was the internet back then is not the internet of today. The ecosystem of the internet that created Google and Facebook and Twitter is not the ecosystem of today.  As I mentioned, I think you could argue that if you want to keep the internet innovative and keep it ripe for technology breakthroughs, then you need to keep it unfettered like it was back then.  You need to make sure no one can stand between a startup with a new idea and the people who could adopt it.  The FCC Net Neutrality approach did not fetter the internet – it did the opposite in making sure big players couldn’t control it.
Overall, this debate should not be one that is partisan, yet this has become 100% partisan which has resulted in a less fact-based discussion – all led by a person who does not really know how the internet works.  And led by a man who is more concerned with his political position than he is about following process allowing for public  comments to be made and reviewed including public comments by experts.  (I am referring to the fact that it was found during the public comment period that people commenting on the change were deceased persons someone was using to create fraudulent comments.  When asked to turn over information to help the NY Attorney General investigate, he pretty much said it did not matter what the public comment was –  he didn’t care.  And no, he would not help with the investigation.)
Later on the book, Harry and McGonagall had this exchange:
‘But I was telling the truth!’ said Harry, outraged. ‘Voldemort is back, you know he his; Professor Dumbledore knows he is –’

‘For heaven’s sake, Potter!’ said Professor McGonagall, straightening her glasses angrily (she had winced horribly when he had used Voldemort’s name). ‘Do you really think this is about truth or lies?
Nope – it’s about power.

What do you think?

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