Despite months of protests, millions of emails, and hundreds of thousands of calls to United States Congressmen on both sides of the aisle urging them to protect net neutrality, the United States Federal Communications Commission formally declared war on the notion that all data on the Internet should be treated equally. The Republican controlled Congress, with few dissenting votes within their own party, effectively approved (some abstained from voting, at best) the FCC’s resolution in a record time of nine months after President Trump appointed Ajit Varadaraj Pai to chairman of the FCC.

The President personally delivered a victory speech of sorts to a joint session of the Senate and House not long after, stating that this was a “tremendous, absolutely tremendous win,” claiming that this would allow the FCC to “match the realities of the modern cyber markets.” Echoing the sentiments of the President, Mr. Pai stated that existing net neutrality rules only protected against “hypothetical harms.” Furthermore, Mr. Pai claimed that his war on net neutrality will “enable a number of pro-competitive business arrangements” and “increase investments,” as well as bring peace, freedom, justice, and security to his new “Internet empire.” In a chilling closing statement, Mr. Pai stated that “the treacherous demands of the consumer shall never endanger us again.”

Almost immediately, reports came in from around the world (because America is the whole world, duh) that certain sites, especially those with pornographic, political, or cute-animal based material, were experiencing incredibly slow load speeds, or just outright refusing to load at all. However, there was no clear pattern to these disruptions, other than the fact that suddenly, people started getting a flood of ads, enticing them to upgrade their Internet service plans. It has also been reported that those who had Cox Cable, AT&T, Charter Communications, and especially Comcast as their Internet Service Provider have been hardest hit by the ads and disruptions, with many customers begging the United Nations to declare the situation a humanitarian crisis and to send aid in the form of other ISPs.

Certain Internet services, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Twitch (and by extension, Amazon), have also reportedly faced incredible pressure from unknown parties to create different subscription tiers that would let them “more fairly ‘tax’ those who use their services the most,” instead of charging what is essentially a flat rate for all subscribers. Similarly, online gaming services like Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, Steam, and the Nintendo Network have faced pressure from unknown parties to introduce tiered subscription levels. While the heads of each of these services have yet to comment on the possibility of such things becoming reality, we have received confirmation that four very similar letters were sent to the corporations that oversee these services.

The letters propose that as soon as possible, Xbox Live/PlayStation Network/Steam/Nintendo Network will partner with [ISP], granting each of their respective services preferential treatment while promising to throttle the services of its competitors, unless customers pay an additional service charge to [ISP]. In addition, each online gaming service is to create a tiered subscription service, with the intention to help identify who use such services the most, to more “fairly charge them for increased bandwidth usage.”

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Artist’s interpretation of ISPs providing customer support circa 2018, colorized

Furthermore, there have been unconfirmed reports that certain game developers and publishers have “petitioned” Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and the Nintendo Network to give their digital games “optimized download speeds.” It should be noted though that many of the aforementioned services or their parent companies have publicly supported net neutrality, thus it seems unlikely that they will give in to such demands, but it should be kept in mind that there are hidden powers at work here, ready to exploit and subvert any weakness in a moment’s notice to further their undoubtedly fiendish schemes.

While it is unclear how such a thing would work in practice, only one thing is certain: the days when every man, woman, and child could access the Internet—the repository for all human knowledge and forum for freedom loving peoples—at a reasonable cost and without tyrannical restriction, could soon be behind us if the concept of net neutrality is extinguished.

BREAKING UPDATE: Ajit Varadaraj Pai, chairman of the FCC, has just dissolved the FCC and reorganized it into the Council of Unshackled Network and Telecommunications Systems, “for a safe and secure society>” As of the head of this Council, Ajit Varadaraj Pai has declared himself Emperor Pai.

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Anson Chan

Staff Writer

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