Net neutrality was a good idea while it lasted. Up until Tuesday, service providers couldn’t gouge you, the consumer, for burning through high-bandwidth on services like Netflix and online games, because all things on the Internet were considered equal. This kept competition fair and costs low. But after a ruling by the US Court of Appeals in D.C. this week, that’s one utopian ideal that may go poof.
Though the ruling can still be appealed to the Supreme Court by the FCC, the court ruled in Verizon’s favor, who filed a lawsuit that essentially complained that they should have the right to dictate what flows over their pipes, however they see fit. And by however they see fit, they mean by charging a premium.
This sucks for a multitude of reasons. Service providers could throttle a service like Netflix, while letting their own shitty proprietary services run wide open. Also, they can now charge you different fees for different activities that you do online. A likely scenario: Verizon could partner with Netflix (it comes preloaded on a lot of their phones) and build that into their plans while charging premiums for Hulu, or vice versa.
This is bad not only for the Internet as a whole, but games in particular. Online gaming chews up a lot of bandwidth, whether we’re talking a digital distribution service like Steam or upcoming streaming services like Sony’s PlayStation Now. And I can’t even begin to imagine how much internet usage has been spent playing Call of Duty and League of Legends. It’s pretty likely games, being, you know, a pretty huge industry, will be targeted. When you think about it, nearly every aspect of games touches the Internet, so in a doomsday scenario, this could be brutal, leading to a decline in esports, independent publishing, and Let’s Play videos, among other things. I mean, I could live without the Let’s Plays, but still.