FCC Poised to Kill Net Neutrality Rules — Here’s How to Keep the Internet Open

December 4th, 2017

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.” ~ Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Demand Progress and net neutrality activist

Called the First Amendment issue of our time by Senator Al Franken in 2010, whether or not net neutrality should be enforced has created fierce debate for almost a decade.

Telecom companies in the U.S. and across Europe have long fought against any type of net neutrality safeguards set in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), claiming the rules discourage free-market investment toward better cable and wireless networks. But former FCC chair,Tom Wheeler, said the FCC would not intervene [in] areas such as pricing, network unbundling and technical operating requirements.

“The FCC rules will treat telecoms companies in a similar way to utilities such as electricity. Internet service providers will be explicitly prohibited from blocking, throttling or prioritizing internet traffic for commercial reasons. Where complaints are raised, the FCC will decide on a case-by-case basis whether what network owners are doing is “fair and just”. [source]

In other words, net neutrality keeps the Internet open, instead of at the mercy of companies who would rather split the Internet into slow and fast lanes, depending on which content and sites are in the best interest of their bottom line. Worse, without the protections of net neutrality, small web business and innovation suffer because they are not able to compete at the same level as mega corporations. Do we really want profit-driven corporations calling the shots and deciding what we have access to on the Internet?

Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality

“A world without net neutrality might end up meaning that you have to pay more to access the internet content that you want. But it also might crush innovation.” [source]

Interestingly, telecom companies, many Republican members of Congress and current FCC chair Ajit Pai (a former Verizon attorney appointed by President Trump) believe that net neutrality actually harms innovation and hurts business because of stifling regulatory burden.

“[We should] return to the Clinton-era light-touch framework that has proven to be successful,” says Pai. He adds,  “people tell me that they want fast, affordable and reliable internet access. They say that they want the benefits that come from competition. And they tell me that they want to access the content and use the applications, services, and devices of their choice.”

Here’s the thing. When polled by Consumers Reports, six out of ten Americans are in favor of keeping the current net neutrality regulations in place — and only about 16 percent claimed they wanted net neutrality to be overturned. Have a look at the FCC public comment page for Pai’s proposal and it will become clear the general population wants solid net neutrality protection.

Will people really want to pay extra to have access to streaming sites like Netflix or YouTube? Or suffer through slow-loading pages simply because they don’t make financial or political sense to the ISP? Makes you wonder who, exactly, Pai is talking about when he makes sweeping generalizations about what people want. Learn more about the myths and facts concerning Pai’s statements on net neutrality here.

Pai’s plan “ignores the will of people from across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support these protections,” said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, in a statement. “It ignores the law and the courts, which have repeatedly upheld the 2015 Title II rules. And it ignores the vibrancy of the internet marketplace following adoption of that 2015 order, with incontrovertible economic data showing that both investment in networks and online innovation are flourishing under the very same rules Pai wants to destroy.”

Net Neutrality Explained

Michael Geist and Peter Armstrong discuss the importance of net neutrality and explain why it is only one part of a much larger fight regarding internet and other electronic services.

The FCC vote on gutting net neutrality rules is slated for mid-December, 2017.

Net Neutrality is Under Serious Attack — Here’s How to Keep the Internet Open

The first step is to write the FCC and submit your comment here. Keep in mind these comments are public records, so it’s not a great idea to use a fake name or post racist comments about Pai. Not only does this undermine the credibility of those wishing to support net neutrality, it’s just plain bad form overall.

If the FCC does revoke their net neutrality rule established in 2015, it’s important to let your representatives know before the vote that you do not agree with the FCC proposal and urge your representative to reform the law. Contact your representatives with this quick and easy email form from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Better yet, put in a phone call to your Congressman and Senators. Contact information is found here. If you can meet in person with your representative, you’ll have an even greater impact.

Another important point to remember is to not forget about your state and local leaders.

“In the past, city mayors have been strong advocates for net neutrality protections,” says Timothy Karr of the organization Free Press. “Any member of Congress worth his or her salt will always have an ear to the ground to see what’s happening in local politics. Local messages trickle up to Washington.”

Local leaders can also make it easier to encourage competition by supporting new internet service providers with access to utility poles, simplifying the process of permits for building new infrastructure, as well as revoking laws which prevent community-owned broadband providers from competing with big telecom corporations.

Moreover, we can vote with our wallets and stand behind broadband providers who truly support net neutrality and Title II classification. Companies like Sonic (available in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Ting (Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland) have clearly stated they support Title II and net neutrality.

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About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at Thrive-Living.net or visit Twitter.com/Thrive_Living.

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