Niall Byrne: Net freedom is in trouble now
Imagine a time where your access to the things you like online is tiered, depending on its source. If you want to visit your local council's information site that's allowed but if you want to watch Netflix or listen to Spotify, you'll have to pay extra for the privilege.
The freedom that allows all internet content to be equal, regardless of source, is at stake in the US at the moment where the net neutrality has suffered a blow in the courts.
Key provisions that disallowed internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or restricting traffic from certain sources have been removed, meaning that your high-data broadband traffic could be chargeable or worse, ad-sponsored in future.
Anyone who has paid attention to the court cases of the music industry in the last few years in Ireland will be aware that legal pressure from a music industry body has lead to ISPs blocking certain BitTorrrent websites, with more Irish ISPs now blocking the popular site Kickass Torrents as of last week.
But those actions required court orders to pressurise ISPs to implement blocks. And ISPs already curtails access somewhat, by limiting the download speed depending on what the user pays per month but there's also been suggestions that ISPs tether data-intensive traffic that comes from gaming or BitTorrent.
In the US, if net neutrality is removed, the ISPs can make up their own rules. If they're all complicit in the idea, then they can make more money. They could also charge Netflix to ensure the HD delivery of movies streamed through their networks (or even for Netflix to be available to customers).
Then, they could charge the customers who want anything better than a low-quality stream or who want to access anything in HD, creating fast and slow lanes for traffic where there does not need to be. It puts all of the control in their hands.
It's only been nearly 21 short years since the World Wide Web was made available to anyone at no cost. An unregulated internet is an anomaly, in a world where media is regulated by bodies and authorities.
Conceivably, anyone can access it, create something and share it with the world.
That's what makes it special. We don't need another price plan on that freedom.
New Artist Of The Week: Tinashe
Tinashe Jorgenson Kachingwe, better known as just Tinashe, has spent her short career making significant moves in the worlds of entertainment.
As an actor, she's featured as Michael Clark Duncan's daughter in Two And A Half Men and provided voiceovers alongside Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. She's recently featured in an advert touting the benefits of an acne-treatment product.
Her own music is of a rhythmic pop persuasion taking in R&B, electronica and hip-hop. As a vocalist, she's guested on tracks from electronic producers Ryan Hemsworth and Jacques Greene and was formerly a member of the girl band The Stunners.
In the last few years, she's released three mixtapes of ambient R&B music, the latest being December's Black Water, the highlight of which was Vulnerable.
This year, she'll finally release her major label debut Aquarius after over two years of preparation.
Tracks Of The Week
Danish band Alphabeat were either perfect pop music or like a bunch of children's TV presenters in a band, depending on your point of view.
Lead singer Stine Bramsen is striking out on her own and Prototypical, her ultra-melodic foot-stomping hand-clapping new single, is a fine slice of pure pop without the potentially annoying bits.
– I Only Fucked You as a Joke
A shouty two minute garage-rock track from a Seattle band at first sounds like a novelty song based on a punchline written to go viral but considering the band are all-female and the song has the line "Oh, I hope I'm not pregnant", the song is really a black comedy about making an infantile bad decision that could lead to real-life consequences.
It's throwaway fun but it has a deeper resonance.
– The Hours
The Scandinavians continue to consume us whole. This London-based Norwegian recorded her debut EP in Iceland and some of that iciness creeps in to Farao Jahnsen's delicate supernatural folk.
Videos of The Week
The Sound Of Taste
A real visual treat – exploding bags of food in slow motion in time to music. They say don't play with your food but we'll make an exception here.
Hey, this could become a thing. Well-known scenes from movies hipsterised. Instead of American Psycho's business cards being the object of desire and jealousy, rare and highly crafted jeans are the focus of the parody.
DOG SAYS NO
Blaze, an 11-month old Husky, has a problem going to his kennel and has no qualms about telling his owner.