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Sponsored data: good for big corporations, bad for everyone else

  • What is Net Neutrality?

It's the idea that all data is equal, and that Internet Service Providers and Government bodies should treat it that way. Net Neutrality prevents corporations and governments from being the only people who can communicate freely across the internet. It also creates competition, which increases innovation by allowing anyone to develop services that use the internet without having to get them approved by another corporation. As First Amendment Scholar Marvin Ammori puts it, without net neutrality "web and mobile companies will live or die not on the merits of their technology, but on the deals they can strike with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others."

  • What is threatening Net Neutrality?

AT&T just announced that they will be pushing "sponsored data" to companies, who would be allowed to pay for the bandwidth their customers use. This makes the sponsored data "better" than unsponsored data, which is a slippery slope towards undermining Net Neutrality. Other carriers are likely to follow in AT&T's steps soon.

  • But if it makes data cheaper, why should I care?

Under sponsored data, major companies like YouTube could force smaller competitors like DailyMotion or Vimeo out of the way by utilizing something similar to a "pay-to-play" scheme. It could also be a first step in undoing existing Net Neutrality rulings, which has been on major corporations' 'to-do' list for a long time.

  • But this would not only make services cheaper, it would also help to 'unclog the pipes', right?

Sponsored Data will make certain services cheaper, but only for a small amount of time. Eventually, the bandwidth being sponsored by other companies WILL come back to the consumer! Secondly, there is no such thing as "clogged pipes" on the internet, and AT&T kind of admitted this in their announcement. Sponsored Data is only good for AT&T and other ISPs, which is why we HAVE to stop this now!