The Federal Communications Commission made a dangerous new proposal to end the hard-fought net neutrality protections that internet consumers, innovators, and creators fought for and won back in 2015.
The FCC, under President Trump and Chairman Pai, along with the cable and cell phone companies companies, are trying to mislead the public into believing that the open internet (aka Net Neutrality), and all the creative and competitive benefits that come with it, should be gotten rid of. Trump and Pai are advocating dropping Title II regulation that saved the internet in 2015. Instead of being honest, Chairman Pai and companies are saying they support net neutrality, just not through Title II. They know they are misleading the public, because courts already found that without Title II the FCC has no ability to protect the internet. That's why we had Title II classification in the first place.
Here’s how you can do something about it...
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality just means protecting the open internet and your ability to access the services and websites you choose. Under the current rules, net neutrality makes sure that internet service providers (“ISPs” like your cable and telephone/fiber company) allow you to access websites and online services without interference or preference. For example, without this, an ISP could tell it's users that they can no longer use Netflix and must only use Hulu instead (because the ISP gets a kickback from one platform but not the other).
The 2015 rules work because they are supported by Title II of the Communications Act. ISP's want to dismantle Title II support, which would dismantle net neutrality and the open internet. ISP's are now misleading consumers by saying they support Net Neutrality but not Title II regulation. Do not be fooled. Net Neutrality without Title II support has already found to be worthless in courts. If the FCC dismantles net neutrality, it will hurt internet users freedom to choose what services to use, innovator's ability to create new businesses and compete with large companies, and creator’s ability share their creations without the fear of censorship from ISP.
Why the Current Net Neutrality Important to…
Net neutrality keeps your internet from getting blocked or throttled. Without net neutrality, ISPs could turn down (or even turn off) particular services at their whim. Without net neutrality your ISP can choose which music or video streaming services are ok for you to access. Wasn't it cool when you could
Because they own the wires above and underground, ISPs typically have a monopoly in each city with only one or two services providers in the market. So even if you’re not happy with getting randomly throttled, it may be difficult or impossible to change to another service.
The current rules also require broadband providers to be transparent about their practices and charges, something that goes out the window if we get rid of net neutrality.
Net neutrality prevents large companies from artificially controlling markets. Without net neutrality, established services can simply keep out competitors by paying ISPs for “fast lanes” to consumers.
If Giant Company X pays all of the ISPs in your area to have their sites load first and Little Startup Y’s app to not load at all, then X can artificially control the market and prevent competition from young startups.
Without net neutrality, ISPs who have a monopoly over providing the internet (because only a handful of companies can own the wires underground) can choose which services and content load quickly, and which move at a glacial pace. Established companies win, and little guys won’t get seen.
Net neutrality allows you to create art and speak freely without censoring your content. Without net neutrality, the ISPs or even the current platforms that you create on may decide to favor certain content and platforms over others.
Even relatively open platforms for creative expression like Youtube are often under fire for issues related to favoring certain content over another [ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/technology/youtube-lgbt-videos.html / http://gizmodo.com/youtubes-restricted-mode-is-hiding-some-lgbt-content-1793382337 ] because of advertiser pressure.
If the net neutrality rules we’re dismantled, ISPs themselves could completely block content they believe is “controversial” or “bad for business from their end. They would also have the leverage to force platforms to adopt their own rules about what content can be in a “fast lane” (that users will have quick access to) or a “slow lane” (that may take much longer for users to load).
Why can you do to show your support?
New Media Rights is writing a comprehensive set of comments to the FCC about the importance of net neutrality to creators, innovators, and average internet users. You can help by...
1. Contacting New Media Rights to submit your story about how the Open Internet rules support your productive and enjoyable use of the internet. Will your business be harmed? Will you creative expression be limited? We want to get your story to share, so get in touch with us here.
2. Submit your own comment directly to the FCC. The GoFCCYourself.com forwards to the FCC’s open comment page.
3. Sign Firefox’s petition: https://advocacy.mozilla.org/en-US/net-neutrality
4. Get more information on the FCC’s previous proposal for adopting Open Internet rules
...and if this sounds like something that you want to protect, tell your representatives.
A Net Neutrality Timeline