I'm Gonna Block Your Netflix!

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The economy: it sucks right now. I have many friends who have canceled their cable and phone services so they could at least keep their Internet service on. The logic? With their high-speed Internet they can still access their news and video content and stay connected without the extra costs.

This works. For now.

Imagine, if you will, that tonight after work all you want to do is sit down and watch your favorite TV show online or flip through Facebook profiles to stay in touch with loved ones. After work you jump on your bike, catch the bus, or hop in your car so you can get home to... your down time.

As soon as you turn the corner you see your house. There's a barricade blocking your front door. There's a BIG detour sign pointing in various directions. All you want to do is go inside YOUR house. You paid your mortgage or your rent, so WTF?

Now let's go back to watching TV. Yesterday, Comcast began charging Level 3 Communications, the backbone service provider of Netflix online movie service, a fee for providing streaming movies. If Level 3 Communications and Netflix don't pay the tollbooth-like fees, Comcast will block Netflix.

Wait. What? You paid for your Internet access, check. You paid for your Netflix subscription, check. Now there is another cost attributed to accessing content online? Freedom. It tasted so good. Now that Internet users enjoy the freedom to choose their content, service providers such as Comcast want to drive out the competition.

This is not just about Netflix. It's also about ABC, NBC, Hulu or however you access streaming content.

"For instance, Comcast could block or degrade iTunes, which competes with Comcast's own online music store." - Adam Green

This sets a scary precedent.  If Comcast can charge an extra fee to Level 3 for hosting Netflix (NFLX)  content, it could (and probably will at some point) charge Google (GOOG) to stream YouTube movies or Apple (AAPL) to broadcast iTunes content. Because Comcast owns the last mile, they hold the keys."-Seth Weintraub

What does this have to do me? You? Who do you think is going to pay the extra costs? Netflix? Apple? Google? Ask Jello Biafra, lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, he's been trying to warn us for years:

As of right now the FCC is deciding whether to pass a rule--known as Network Neutrality--that would protect the great openness of the Internet. This issue is bigger than watching Glee or downloading music. The outcome of these deliberations will have a critical role in determining the overall health and wellbeing of our communities nationwide.

The Internet, as we know it today, plays an essential part in how we access education, our healthcare system, and apply for employment.

FCC studies show cost is the number one barrier to Internet access. So, how will overcharging users and building toll roads on the Internet help us?

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