Democratic Senator and Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris is a fan of superhero films, and has been known to use them to illustrate ideas related to her various political platforms. Following Congressman Michael Doyle Jr.’s (D, Pa.) Save the Internet Act making it through the House in a 232-190 vote, Harris took to Twitter with an Avengers analogy to emphasize how important the bill is.
The Save the Internet Act would make it so internet service providers could not legally throttle data speeds to certain sites or block them entirely in an attempt to charge consumers more in order to gain access to better service. With net neutrality in place, ISPs would be forced to treat internet access like the public utility it is in our digital age, which would ensure the FCC has the power to enforce rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, i.e, “fast lanes.”
To illustrate what’s at stake in the fight for net neutrality, Harris discussed a hypothetical situation in which you couldn’t watch Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix because your cable provider wanted you to use their own proprietary streaming platform:
As eyebrow-raising as Harris’ hypothetical is, it’s not exactly the most realistic of scenarios. Under the current rules, an ISP could block its customers from accessing specific rival streaming platforms entirely in order to promote its own service, but doing so would cast the company (take your pick) in an incredibly bad light and disincentivize people from signing up with them. No ISP wants to be known as “the one that Netflix doesn’t work on.”
It’d be much more likely that an ISP made sure its own Netflix-like service streamed at higher speeds to encourage people to use it more. Harris’ specific point about Infinity War is also somewhat moot given that in the very near future, the bulk of Marvel Studios’ content is going to live on Disney+.
But the core of what Harris is getting at in her advocacy for net neutrality is still important and worth talking about. With as many new streaming platforms as studios are rolling out and courting consumers with, people want to be able to access them with the best quality possible. With proper rules making the enforcement of net neutrality possible in place, that’s something everyone could have.
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