Ok, I am not one to usually go down the political path here, but over the last few weeks/months, something that should be important to anybody who likes information and access is coming under fire: Net Neutrality.
You are probably saying "What is Net Neutrality?" In a nutshell, its a policy formerly enforced by the FCC that states: it is illegal for an ISP or Carrier to bias your internet connection to provide better access to content they provide or are linked to (i.e. you pay for a "neutral" connection to the internet, hence net neutrality). It makes it illegal for a company like Cox, Comcast, or Time Warner to limit your bandwidth to something like say Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Live, PSN, Steam, or a Multiplayer Game Server in favor of providing more bandwidth to their media services.
It is an important concept that has maintained a level playing field on the entire internet (yes this influences the GLOBE, not just the US) since its inception in the mid-90s. It has permitted start-ups to compete on a level playing field with established brands, it has helped in preventing monopolies of information by certain vested parties... It used to be a given, but as more and more ISPs also become content providers and are spending BILLIONS on lobbying, it is starting to falter. Right now it is getting serious, as the FCC is passing legislation in the wake of it determining it can not enforce net neutrality. This new legislation (tabled in early May to permit public feedback) would allow ISPs to determine appropriate connection speeds for services.
The problem is this places everything most of us hold dear on the internet in the crosshairs of companies who compete with them. Like Netflix? Well TWC has a service that competes with Netflix, so if they are your ISP you may see some slowdown. Like media services like XBL or Steam? Hmm, you could get anything from those, so Comcast isn't going to let you have a full connection. Heck, depending on your viewpoint, this could even hinder something like Wikipedia from being able to sustain itself or at the very least you being able to reliably connect to it. After all the recent there currently is no planned limitation to what can and cannot be "slow-laned," it is left to the discretion of the service provider. It wouldn't be so bad, except most people in the country are not provided other options because the ISPs themselves have regional monopolies.
For a more comical summary, I highly recommend this video:
Do yourself a favor though and tell the FCC to keep Net Neutrality alive: Send Us Your Comments | FCC.gov or FCC Establishes New Inbox for Open Internet Comments | FCC.gov
It may be somewhat futile, seeing as the chair of the FCC in the US is a former Comcast employee. Hopefully if there is enough public outcry, they will do something.
Put simply: This is as big a threat as SOPA or PIPA to how you live your connected life. You should care, and you should do something.