If you use the Internet (and if you’re reading this, you probably do), you’ve probably seen coverage on this issue.
It hits particularly close to home for FEAD because we make our living on the Internet working for businesses of different sizes that could be severely impacted by the elimination of Net Neutrality policy.
We feel very passionately about educating our readers and giving them the tools to make their voice heard. So let’s dive in.
What is the Net Neutrality debate about?
First, you should watch what John Oliver has to say about it. He is much more eloquent (and hilarious) than us.
At the moment, broadband and wireless Internet service providers (or ISPs) like Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon are not allowed to slow or block your access to content. They also can’t create “fast lanes” or faster access to content providers that are willing to pay more.
Why does Net Neutrality matter?
One of the most infamous examples of an ISP being egregious was a company called Madison River Communication. In 2005, they blocked ports for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to push their own version. Vonage immediately complained to the FCC and they moved quickly to levy a fine and ensure Madison River Communications would not do that again.
To put this in context of how it applies to you right now—Comcast cannot block Netflix and Hulu in order to force you to use one of their streaming xfinity plans. However, if the FCC abolishes net neutrality, that’s exactly what can happen. The ISPs don’t want to be classified as “Title II” (common carrier) providers, as this puts them under FCC and other Federal regulations that could impede investment opportunities, however that is highly debatable.
Moreover, the ISPs have claimed consumers have nothing to worry about if they are reclassified as “Title I” providers, because they have no intention of abusing their power. However, this is a hard pill to swallow for two reasons:
- The major ISPs have already begun to hint at plans to create internet fast lanes, and they are doing all that they can to make sure that no government agency at the federal or state level has any legal authority to enforce net neutrality rules or core open Internet protections
- Without Title II classification (which is what the big hullabaloo is about), the FCC couldn’t actually enforce net neutrality rules at all. They would have no legal precedent to do so. This isn’t a theory, we have seen this in the recent past in this 2014 Verizon vs. FCC court decision which ruled in favor of Verizon. This case is partially what prompted the FCC’s Net Neutrality policy and classifying ISPs as “Title II” providers in 2015.
Net neutrality is what we believe is ethically, morally, socially, and economically the right thing. It fosters innovation, and it’s the only way the Internet can reach its full potential and full audience. The Internet is no longer a luxury, it has become a near necessity to survive in the modern world.
This quote from Evan Greer sums our thoughts up really well:
“The Internet is as awesome and diverse as it is thanks to the basic guiding principle of net neutrality. Getting rid of Title II would lead to even more centralization, handing more power to the largest Internet companies while stifling competition and innovation. In a time when there are too few companies with too much power – we need net neutrality now more than ever.”
What can I do to protect Net Neutrality?
As insurmountable as it may seem, there is a lot that you can do. And if you believe in a neutral and open Internet like we do, here are some steps you can take.
Sign these petitions, and be sure to verify your email from the White House.
Text “resist” to 504-09. It’s a bot that will walk you through sending an email, fax and letter to your representatives.
Email these 5 people deciding on Net Neutrality.
- Be civil but protest these three people.
Ajit Pai – Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov
Michael O’Reilly – Mike.O’Reilly@fcc.gov
Brendan Carr – Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov
- Thank these two wonderful people!
Mignon Clyburn – Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
Jessica Rosenworcel – Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov
Thanks for your support. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, comments or concerns.