Internet Slow Lanes and Net Neutrality : Why Gamers Should Care

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About one month ago, numerous internet giants and companies, like Netflix and Tumblr, did a call to awareness known as Slow Internet Day to show people what they could look forward to in the future.  On May 15th, democrats voted up an FCC regulation that would allow major companies to prioritize their content by paying for faster internet service.  Now that doesn’t sound so bad, right?  It just means that the actual content that people want to see will get good service whereas unpopular stuff like child porn will go slow right?

Nope.  Think again.  The internet is unique in that all companies and organizations have an even playing field as far as speeds and tampering with that will ultimately start to slowly enforce a regulation on it.  Sure, some negative content will suffer, but at the same time upstart websites that are aspiring to overtake their larger cousins will have an extra obstacle to surmount: driving sales and ad revenue with the shitty internet connection that is left while their competitors can afford better internet.  This will maintain a distinct pecking order and help keep a ‘status quo’ on the internet.  I will allow money to dictate where the people go, rather than the current model which makes the money follow the people.  FUCK THIS SHIT!

This is a problem that I have been voicing my opinion about and writing imporant people about.  While the internet was still wondering who the fuck Zoe Quinn was, I was calling congress telling them that the proposed slow lanes were a bad fucking idea.  This is an idea that GamerGaters should really consider carefully, because if it is allowed to go through, it will murder the movement overnight.  Literally, overnight.  The worst part is, that it was voted on in May.  I received this e-mail from Pennsylvania state representative Mike Fitzpatrick about the issue:

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October 6, 2014

The Crotchety Old Gamer
Where he lives
Greater Philadelphia, PA

Dear Nathan,

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposed “Net Neutrality” rule. Your input is a valuable part of the legislative process and I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

A free and open internet is the best way to enhance commerce and encourage the free flow of ideas.  In fact, as we’ve seen in counties across the world, it can even facilitate revolutions.

On May 15, the FCC voted 3-2 to move forward with a new set of regulations with the stated goal of guaranteeing a more open internet. The FCC explains that these proposed rules are designed to prevent Internet providers from taking advantage of an unregulated system by knowingly slowing data.  At the same time, they would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed “fast lane” of service.

Opponents of this plan are concerned that such a policy would discriminate against the content of those who cannot afford the “fast lane” service. Several lawmakers have expressed that these changes could create tremendous legal and marketplace uncertainty.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler intends to finalize the open internet rule making process before the end of this year. As Chairman Tom Wheeler stated immediately following the vote, “What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approached to accomplish the same goal, an open Internet.”  This month’s vote began a process that will start with a 120 day comment period.

The FCC openly encourages the public to share their views, as your remarks will help the Commission decide upon the final rules. You can submit your comments for the rule making to the FCC’s designated email on the matter: openinternet@fcc.gov. Please visitwww.fcc.gov to read more about the proposed plan.

I will continue to monitor this situation; keeping your comments and concerns in mind as it develops. If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to this or any other legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (202) 225-4276.  For additional information, please visit my website www.fitzpatrick.house.gov. From this site you can sign up for my e-newsletter, access statements about current events or pending legislation and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for the 8th District of Pennsylvania. You can also connect with me on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/RepFitzpatrick, or follow me on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/RepFitzpatrick.

Sincerely,

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Mike Fitzpatrick
Member of Congress

 

Mike, you might as well have signed this letter “an out of touch old legislator who really has no idea what is going on.”  Think about it this way.  You are in your room, reading an article on your favorite low-level gaming news site and generally enjoying yourself.  Your 17-year-old little brother decides to hop onto his Xbox One and play some of the latest Call of Doody while playing his favorite teenage rage songs over Grooveshark.  Your mom is streaming the latest video posted on YouTube by Ellen Degeneres and your dad is watching the latest Rocco Siffredi porno in his office.  You go to click on a new article and you now have to wait for 20 minutes while it loads like you are in the goddamn 90’s on a 56.6k modem.

Now, yes, the family dividing up the bandwidth on their connection might be a slim example compared to the internet as a whole, but follow.  If major companies are able to buy up all the “fast lanes,” which are now voted into regulation, this means that smaller sites will really be usable since they will have a lower slice of the bandwidth and thus will be slower.  Now, I would say just log on at night, but putting in a permanent regulation that makes others move faster is outright PRIORITIZING THE GODDAMN INTERNET!  This is a load of horseshit because it means that larger companies will be able to dictate which sites you will go to just by paying for the better connections.  It almost sounds fair, but look at it like this.  In a system like this, you will be told where to go for content and forced to migrate toward major outlets simply because the connection is better.  They are using a technique of social engineer whereby they dictate the flow indirectly.

Example: there are three public water fountains in town from which the townsfolk get much-needed water for daily tasks.  We’re talking like a Roman fountain where you hold a bucket to collect water and not the standard “bubbler” as they call it in Wisconsin.  Now, the town regulates flow to these different fountains throughout the day, typically to provide water to each during necessary times of day.  One day they decide they will start sending most of the water to the fountain in the middle of town while the other two are left at a trickle.  They say, you can still go to those ones, but you will be waiting for an hour to fill one bucket, and that is without the lines that will likely form.  It makes sense, then, to go to the fountain in the middle of town to get water.  You later realize that this was part of a plan to eliminate the other two fountains in favor of one where they could watch everyone easier and limit the diversity of outlets of water, fully controlling the waterflow.  Now they can accurately tax the water.

Sure, that last bit about water taxation is my own little add-in, but if they are able to limit the internet, eliminate competitors for data-flow and get more people going to specific locations, it would open the internet to information regulation and social engineering.  They would be able to dictate where you go simply because of the excuse of “well what, they couldn’t afford the better connection!”  Quite simply, the internet needs to remain open to all so that the diversity of flow can continue, otherwise smaller ideas, which could explode into larger, more potent movements, would be allowed to founder and die.  Don’t let them use money to regulate the flow of information and, thereby, the internet.  Speak out against the slowlanes.  Call your congressmen!  Mail your senators!  Shit, these fuckers CANNOT be allowed to tamper with our connections.  They have been trying to do it with every acronym under the sun, don’t let some concept of data-darwinism be what renders the internet inviable as the pure source of free-flowing information that has toppled dictators, countered social strictures and enhanced the world.  Sure, there are horrible things on the internet, too, but are the few examples of horrible people and inhumanity an acceptable reason to allow internet regulation?  I hope you just said no.

I will be hashtagging this with #GamerGate and #NotYourShield because this is something that we should all be considering.  Afterall, our movement depends entirely on the even playing field that the internet provides.  Get rid of that and what are we?  Fight #datadarwinism.

Need a better explanation or more information?  Here is list of articles about the slow-lanes.

Time – FCC Votes to Move Forward on Internet ‘Fast Lane’

The Daily Tech – FCC’s New Fast Lanes, Slow Lanes Net “Neutrality” Plan Angers Everyone

Forbes – The Real ‘Slow Lane’ Threat to the Internet

Huffington Post – Fast Lane, Slow Lane — “No Lane” — End Game in Telecommunications


And add you voice to the support:


Open Media International – Say No To Internet Slow Lanes

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Special Report: Adam Baldwinn and InternetAristocrat talk GamerGate on Ed Morrissey Show!

EdMorrisseyShow

First, I just want to include that the views on my blog and in this article are solely those of myself and are not connected to any games reporting outlet for which I produce content.

In what feels like the first high-profile open discussion about GamerGate, Ed Morrissey stated up front that “opponents of this movement were invited to participate […] and did not respond.”  That should tell you something about how they plan to handle this situation, potentially even their confidence in their side of the discussion.  As the host of the show, Ed says also that he is playing the role of the “interested moderator.”  You can find the video on Townhall Media’s YouTube Channel.  I’ve linked it here with the exact time the GamerGate discussion picks up.  The discussion was held on the Ustream for The Ed Morrissey Show, which is featured on Hot Air.com.  He’s a video blogger and conservative grassroots journalist.  He was joined today on his program by Kevin Glass, the managing editor at Townhall.com, Internet Aristocrat, a video blogger whose Quinnspiracy video largely rallied the gamer community, and Adam Baldwinn of Firefly and The Last Ship fame.

The major points that are touched on in the 48-minute discussion were the primary arguments of the #GamerGate movement, the first of which was the ethics being displayed in gaming journalism.  Adam spoke up first saying “I’d like to focus on the most important part [which] is […] companies that are basically in business to make ad revenue providing information to gamers and for them to go to war with gamers over their complaints seems […] professionally suicidal.”  Now Adam is no longer a bystander in the GamerGate discussion and even says that he’s “tried to be neutral as he can” but that he’s clearly taken a position in this discussion.  Cinemablend released an article in late August about Adam’s contribution to The Fine Young Capitalists IndieGoGo campaign supporting women in gaming, and harassment he received in response to tweeting about his contribution.

Adam also commented on the response from major games journalists saying “it’s shocking to see the vitriol and the silence that has descended upon what could be a very productive conversation.”

And honestly, he’s right.  Just today MundaneMatt, a YouTuber whose channel was under direct assault in this controversy, ran a video about four hours ago discussing how games journos are now hiding their Patreon pledges and withdrawing from this discussion.  As for the vitriol: do I really need to reblog that same STILL GROWING list of sites I will refuse to take gaming news from henceforth?

Internet Aristocrat provides a number of eloquent and thorough monologues on GamerGate from start to finish.  He comments, while games reporters are people who like games, we would like more disclosure about their biases and their connections within the games industry.  Ed agrees saying that in the film industry movie critics like movies and go to movies, but what they really need is jounalistic distance.  That is something we are not seeing at all in games.  I have listed the ways that I have supported crowdfund campaigns and I will openly admit that I have accepted review copies of games, but the level of convolution in the games industry is showing a consistent profusion.

Ed mentions to Adam that some of the sites involved have put out disclosure rules on their websites just this week, but Adam responds saying “Well that’s all well and good, but the question now becomes enforcement […] if those policies are not enforced internally, then they’re just pieces of paper.”  And for the most part, supporters of the sites have been pointing at these as the “valid response” and that gamers need to call off the dogs.  Some people are still just lambasting gamers, saying that there is nothing to this “scandal,” labeling gamers as sadistic ‘misogynerds’ wanting only to keep down women in the industry.

But Adam continued, saying “the reason this scandal blew up and what caught my attention was the way the attack came. […] When […] the “twitter inquisition” descends upon you, that’s a tip off that there’s something there.” In my honest opinion, at this point anyone still saying that gamers are off-base is just plugging their heads in the sand and ignoring the facts.

Of course, the next element of the GamerGate discussion came out of Adam’s thoughts. “I can understand why anyone would want to protect someone who’s being attacked or harassed, coming to the defense of your friends: that’s a noble thing.  But it’s really moved beyond [the events] that catalyzed this whole thing.”  And he’s entirely right.  We mostly decry harassment, but this discussion has moved well beyond just chastising a few basement-dwelling misogynists.

The next point covered comes out of Kevin Glass who says “[online media] are maligning the term ‘gamer’ way too broadly, and they’re indicting the entire community for the actions of a smaller group of people.”  Absolutely.  That is only too true.  Adam briefly mentioned the GamerGate Blitzkrieg as I detailed in previous articles, and even seems to have been personally insulted by some things he’s read.  Kevin makes another solid point that “you go into an online community and [the abusive element] is often the loudest group of people there.”  He also says “some people seem to be trying to preserve gaming in a pure, apolitical way that might not be healthy for the game industry.”  I have to agree whole-heartedly with that as well.  As I have said in this blog’s about page and previous reviews, games are a developing art form, and the best way that we can obtaine validation for games as art is to approach broader topics with an open mind.  And many games including Heavy Rain, 4PM and Braid have done so in an entertaining and interesting way.  Even Kevin Glass admits that games like Depression Quest and Gone Home are “counter-intuitive and have socio-political messages that [gamers] aren’t really used to,” but there are approachable and entertaining ways to create amazing games with powerful statements without making them boring to play and difficult to engage but for an elite few.

Honestly, this whole conversation is a wonderful piece and I will love all of these people forever because of the stand they have made and the discussion they’ve had.  Bear in mind, the games journalists have decided to remain silent and removed themselves from the discussion.  If anything is true about social progress, removing yourself from talks guiding it exempts you entirely.  I am not sure if they realize it, but they are damning themselves by not speaking up.  So, please, watch the video and show your support.  Check it out and keep this in mind: we’ve won the first battles of GamerGate and gotten it out to a broader audience.  Now let’s finish the war.  Stay in the fight and stay strong.