Today Is The Day of Action to Help Save Net Neutrality


Today is the day MANY websites across the internet including Geek Alabama will participate in the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.  Yes, there have been protests before, but this one is the most serious protest yet as the FCC will vote on removing Net Neutrality rules in only a few days!

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but very powerful principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. Whether you’re reading a blog post on Geek Alabama, streaming Game of Thrones on HBO GO, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your Internet service provider delivers the Internet to you at the same speed, without blocking, throttling, or charging extra tolls based on the content you’re viewing.

Net Neutrality gives all online businesses, large and small, a chance to reach customers and succeed. It also protects important free speech rights online by prohibiting Internet providers from slowing or blocking sites or messages they don’t agree with.  Net Neutrality means an Internet where businesses, products, and ideas thrive or fail based on their own merit — not on whether they have a preferred deal in place with a broadband service provider.

Internet providers like Comcast & Verizon should not control what we see and do online. In 2015, startups, Internet freedom groups, and 3.7 million commenters won strong Net Neutrality rules from the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The rules prohibit Internet providers from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—”fast lanes” for sites that pay, and slow lanes for everyone else.

Nearly everyone who understands and depends on the Internet supports Net Neutrality, whether they’re startup founders, activists, gamers, politicians, investors, comedians, YouTube stars, or typical Internet users who just want their Internet to work as advertised—regardless of their political party.  Want to learn why Net Neutrality is that important, watch these two videos below from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver where he explains in great and funny details why Net Neutrality is that important!

Net Neutrality says we get the *entire* web without interference – no gatekeepers, no tollbooths, no slowlanes.  You don’t like sitting behind a slow poke on the highway who won’t move over.  Without Net Neutrality, you can expect to sit behind the digital slowpoke on the internet highway.  This is why it is considered the First Amendment of the Internet.  It protects our free speech in the digital age.  Without strong protections, Cable and phone companies like Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Cable One would be able to:

  • Slow video streaming sites, causing your videos start and stop unexpectedly.
  • Add you new fees to your Internet bill. Imagine paying extra for YouTube!
  • Censor videos or content they don’t agree with, like political blogs.
  • Throttle any new sites or apps they don’t own or invest in.
  • Make your connection painfully slow, and charge you more to make it work again.
  • Force streaming sites like Spotify into a slow lane, causing them to buffer constantly.
  • Slow online gaming. Call of Duty would lag and glitch without paying more to your ISP.
  • Charge big sites special “prioritization fees” and slow down everyone else.
  • Take you out of the driver’s seat, and control what you see and hear online.
  • Make the Internet look a lot more like cable TV.
  • And, worst of all, become the first gatekeepers of the Internet in US history.

Net Neutrality is not a partisan issue.  Regardless of your political views are or who you voted for, everyone who knows what Net Neutrality is supports it.  And poll after poll confirms this across party lines.  Without Net Neutrality, the government will give cable and phone companies free rein to shake down Internet users and websites for more money. And the ripple effects will be felt for years.  An entire generation of innovators have built their careers on the open web. With Net Neutrality in place, you just need a good idea and a decent connection to reach millions.

Without Net Neutrality, the Internet would look a lot more like cable TV, where the content you see is what your cable provider is paid to put in front of you.  We all know how much we hate dealing with the cable company over cable TV, now imagine hating your cable or telecom company over horrible internet speeds.  This could become an reality if the Net Neutrality rules go away.

Cable and telecom companies are lobbying the FCC and Congress to end Net Neutrality. Why? It’s simple: if they win the power to slow sites down, they can bully any site into paying millions to escape the “slow lane.”  This would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy.  Every site would cost more, since they’d all have to pay big cable. Worse, it would extinguish the startups and independent voices who can’t afford to pay. If we lose Net Neutrality, the Internet will never be the same.

To help fight these greedy idiots who wants to control the internet and make it worse forever, today (July 12) is an Internet-wide day of action in support of Net Neutrality.  Many websites from Netflix, Reddit, Twitter, Etsy, Kickstarter, Automattic, Vimeo, Thinkgeek, and many more sites are participating in this Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.  If you share our love of the free and open Internet and want to join the fight to preserve it, please join in!  And it’s very simple to add your voice in support of Net Neutrality!

Go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/#bftn-action-form and fill out a simple form that will send an letter to the FCC and your local Congressman.  You can even customize your letter and say whatever you want!

You can also submit your own letter to the FCC website which will be public record.  Go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/proceedings?q=name:((17-108)) and click on new filing on top to submit your letter on supporting Net Neutrality!

The FCC will decide the fate of Net Neutrality in only a few days!  We the internet can have a say on helping to stop the stupid removal of these rules.  Even if the FCC decides to strip Net Neutrality, there will be a LONG court fight ahead to keep these vital rules.

Here is the letter I have submitted to the FCC:

I am writing to the FCC to express my concerns about Net Neutrality. Let’s get straight to the point, allowing the internet providers with ways to charge websites to allow a so called “fast lane” will be very bad for consumers, businesses, and everyday people. You know what is going to happen if Net Neutrality is taken away? Our internet will become like cable, and we will have to pay money to access news sites. Pay more money to access our social media sites. Pay even more money to access our video sites, and so on.

The internet providers are only looking for ways to make even more money and become greedier, like what they have done with cable. Just like in cable TV, an internet provider could get into a contract dispute with a website like Facebook or Twitter, and if a deal is not reached, the internet provider can block the site. And in many communities, you only have one choice for an internet provider, so if Facebook or Twitter is blocked, you are out of luck!

I run a popular website in the south called Geek Alabama, which is run off of WordPress. If Net Neutrality is taken away, I do not have the money to pay the internet providers to get on a “fast lane.” And many blogs, websites, and small businesses don’t have the funds either. I am asking you keep and continue to re-classify the internet providers as a “public utility” and keep the internet open, free, and fast for everybody, no matter how much money each person has. America needs to get back to their helping others, small business roots, and quit catering to very large companies who only cares about making a buck. Thank you for reading!

-Nathan Young
GeekAlabama.com

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The Evening Post: Ben Aaron Goes After Internet Trolls


Geek Alabama Evening Post

Times have changed!  Back then, to contact any famous person you had to write a letter to them and hope you got something back in the mail.  Today, all you need to contact a famous person is the internet.  Trolls on the internet use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other accounts to send hate comments and messages to just about anyone, including me.  So in this video, watch as Ben Aaron explains the internet trolls.  Sadly this is something that will not go away anytime soon.

Explore Five Ways To Maintain Your Freedom Online


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UPDATE: This post is written by Cassie Phillips.

Your internet freedom is constantly under attack, and in many cases, you aren’t even aware of it. There are many programs and special interest lobbies looking to suppress your freedom of information, and it is vital to our society that it does not happen. Despite the many methods being attempted, the online community has ways of bypassing these methods in order to use the internet as it was intended.

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Image courtesy of Sopitas under CC BY-NC 2.0

Here are five things you should consider doing to maintain your freedom online:

Know More about How the Internet Works

While anyone can and should use the internet as they need to, there is a limit to your ability to protect yourself until you have a greater working knowledge of how the internet works at a more basic level. Other things that you should know about are networking and the processes of torrenting. You certainly should not torrent if you don’t want to, but you should know how it works. You should also know the many options that are available to you through additional programs and your base operating system.

While articles can be great for answering a single question or serving as a baseline, you will probably want to pick up a book from your library or read a full eBook on the subject at your next available opportunity. It is absolutely essential that you read recently written materials as well, unless you want to spend an hour learning the intricacies of floppy disk use and security. If you have any other specific questions about improving your computer skills, you can always ask a forum or an online community and many people will be happy to help you.

Once you know more about the internet you will be able to better notice when something is wrong or something is acting just ever so slightly out of place. That awareness will be a great tool to you.

Use Tor

One of the most popular ways that people use to circumvent government censorship and other organization interference and tracking is to use Tor.Toris an anonymity network that you first install on your device and then proceed to use as you use the internet. It will relay your IP address through multiple other users, masking your IP address so others will not be able to track you. While there are some disadvantages, such as the possible slower connection speed and some possible security risks, Tor is free and any advanced or curious users out there can feel free to take a look at the coding.

Get a Proxy

A proxy server is another extremely popular option that will let you mask your IP address via an alternate server. With this option also, no one will be able to track your activities online. It is also free, and there are a multitude of options out there for any platform you can think of. That being said, make sure you pick out a good one that is both easy to set up and not a piece of malware disguising itself as a proxy program or app.

Use a Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network is a service which will allow the user to connect to an offsite secure server or servers with an encrypted connection that will act as a “tunnel” keeping hackers and onlookers out, especially on public networks. This encrypted connection is what for practical reasons differentiates a proxy server from a VPN and is what makes a VPN worth the subscription cost that is usually associated with it (most free VPNs are extremely low in quality). The way that they work allows users of a VPN to look like they are accessing the internet from a different country, meaning that regional blocks and regional restrictions are effectively useless.

For a great example as to how they have been used to keep online freedom alive in an oppressive environment, you will want to take a look at Australia. Australia recently passed legislation which will mean the blocking of nearly all torrent sites (if by this point already they aren’t already blocked), and this was perceived as a major attack on digital freedom in the country. When this happened, the use of VPNs in Australia skyrocketed, and the decline in torrenting was not nearly as much as hoped.

If you currently live in Australia or are planning on going anytime soon, I strongly suggest you follow suit and find a VPN. If not in Australia, I still highly recommend getting one as it is one of the best options you have for staying free online.

Be Politically Aware and Active

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep digital freedom alive is to stay both aware and become involved in the political process as it relates to net neutrality and digital regulation. Members of Congress and other political representatives listen, and if you live in a country where they don’t, then you should at least try to stay up to date so you can prepare yourself for any new laws or dictates that come out.

Try looking up your representative and see what their position is on issues regarding the internet. If they seem to hide their answer, write them a letter and ask for it. Check out their voting record to see if their actions match their words. Spread the word on social media if there is anything urgent or important that requires attention from voters. Finally, see if there are any local or online groups that you feel are right for you so you can find people who have similar ideals that you can talk to if you have a question.

Thank you for reading, and may you stay vigilant about online freedom so your internet usage remains free.

The Evening Post: To AdBlock, Or Not To Adblock


Geek Alabama Evening Post

Tonight I am presenting the latest episode from the YouTube PBS Idea Channel.  YOU WON! CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE! We’ve all seen this ad before in some way, shape, or form. And many companies have come forward with technology promising to ruthlessly eliminate any and all ad-supported websites from your devices. Sounds like a sweet deal, but can it be that simple? Well, this is Idea Channel so, obviously not! Can there ever be a nuanced approach to blocking ads?  Enjoy!

And here are the comment responses to the Were They Dead The Whole Time?? episode.

The Evening Post: Are You Literally What You Post


Geek Alabama Evening Post

Tonight, I present the latest episode from the YouTube PBS Idea Channel.  “Me rn”: the internets self-recognition phenomenon where pictures and gifs are used to represent feelings, reactions, and internal states. But could this process of ‘disembodiment’ be an attempt at better representing ourselves in a technological world? Join Mike on this week’s episode of Idea Channel as he explores the world of Me rn, Same, GPOY and Literally me rn. Are these collections of pics and gifs just momentary self-recognition or are they a subconsciously more accurate representation of ourselves in the modern era?

And here are the comment responses to the Are 400+ TV Shows Happening In The Same Universe video.