Speak Up for Net Neutrality – Take II

Speak Up for Net Neutrality – Take II

Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) chairman, announced that he and thus the FCC are moving forward with reversing net neutrality and that the FCC Board will vote on this issue on December 14th, 2017. While it is next to certain that the Board will vote to revoke the net neutrality law, speaking up on this issue is still critically important – giving voice is always wise and in the law suits that are sure to follow, it will be important for the defenders of net neutrality to the point to the millions of Americans who have spoken up to protect net neutrality.

A loss of net neutrality would mean that the internet would morph into a product, the main goal of which is to make money. Internet providers could, and most likely would, create various speeds at which internet content is transmitted to you, the user, and could, probably would, charge customers more to get the faster speed and to access various parts of the internet (https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2017/11/21/16680290/fcc-end-net-neutrality-vote-announced). An example can be seen in Portugal, which does not have net neutrality laws, where an internet service provider has broken up access to the internet into different ‘units’ that you need to buy separately, think of this as an à la carte approach to using the internet: if you want to access Facebook you have to buy the social media package, if you want to engage in messaging then the messaging package is for you and if watching videos is in your future then you need to add that package to your cart, etc…. (http://www.iflscience.com/technology/country-net-neutrality/). The way, in which we use the internet, our very understanding of what the internet is and who it is available to (i.e. everyone) will be fundamentally changed by a revoking of net neutrality. Experts are saying that an increased price tag for one’s internet service is almost guaranteed to occur following the removal of net neutrality ((https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-questions.html).

Mr. Pai’s, and the Republican, argument for revoking net neutrality is essentially a version of trickle-down economics; the argument is that if Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the company that provides you your internet access (less than 25% of the country has multiple ISPs to choose from – I know this includes where we live in the VC), is de-regulated and free to charge more for fast access then those companies will make more profits. These companies will then turn around and re-invest those profits into building up America’s internet infrastructure. This increased internet infrastructure will lead to more ISPs and therefore more competition and thus the free market will ensure that prices as well as access stay competitive (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/22/ajit-pai-fcc-defends-net-neutrality-repeal-258161, https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2017/11/21/16680290/fcc-end-net-neutrality-vote-announced). Another argument that Mr. Pai makes is that he is simply returning the internet to what it was before the net neutrality law of 2015, while this may sound great – the truth is that in the US, the internet has always followed net neutrality. Thus the 2014 decision by the FCC codified what was standard practice – see the blog post from July 3rd, 2017 for more on this.

Needless to say countless people, the Democratic Party as well as many internet companies point out that there are numerous problems with this logic and that numerous things can, and probably will go wrong with this free-market approach. In short there are two major fears of opponents to the FCC’s upcoming decision: 1) an end to net neutrality will result in a “pay-to-play technology” with big companies and the well-to-do cruising in the internet fast lane while the rest of us, as well as start-ups and small companies, cruising in the slow lane, 2) the policy Mr. Pai has put forward would allow ISP’s to block content, which has never before been allowed, and thus there is bonafide fear that the intentional slowing of certain content or even censorship will begin to occur (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-questions.html, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/fcc-net-neutrality.html).

While the time period has ended to make a formal statement to the FCC, here is the contact information for the FCC, including Chairman Pai – make your opinions on this issue heard: https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact.

 

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Speak Up Against the FCC’s Plan to End Net Neutrality

Speak Up Against the FCC’s Plan to End Net Neutrality

The way things stand at this present moment in time is that everything occurring on the internet occurs at the same speed, so regardless of wealth, opinion, location, regardless of anything everyone has the same speed of receiving the desired data: “As written, the [net neutrality] rules prevent Internet providers… from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps. In short, they’re intended to prevent providers from playing favorites (http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/24/technology/fcc-net-neutrality/?iid=EL).” Phrased another way, net neutrality is our norm, it is the only way we have known the internet: “Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. Net Neutrality is the way that the internet has always worked…. When you use the internet you expect Net Neutrality…. When you go online you have certain expectations. You expect to be connected to whatever website you want. You expect that your cable or phone company isn’t messing with the data and is connecting you to all websites, applications and content you choose. You expect to be in control of your internet experience” (https://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now).

While the internet has always functioned with net neutrality, this did not become law until 2015 – when due in part to millions of activists who protested, wrote comments and put pressure on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) – the FCC established net neutrality as law. The FCC did this by classifying internet providers as public utility companies, meaning that the FCC had the right to legislate them. Trump’s appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has stated that in regards to the net neutrality law, “It has become evident that the FCC made a mistake,” (http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/28/technology/fcc-net-neutrality/index.html) and thus he intends to un-due the classification of internet providers as public utility companies, meaning that the FCC will no longer have legal say over internet providers – the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC, would become the governmental agency overseeing internet providers (see blog post form April 12, 2017 for more info on the FTC and how it is regarded as being a low enforcement agency). It is unclear if the FCC under Chairman Pai’s leadership will allow for some skeletal form of net neutrality or not (Sources for the paragraph: https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/23/15681434/net-neutrality-how-to-comment-fcc-proposal-released, http://thehill.com/policy/technology/334743-fcc-opens-public-comment-period-for-net-neutrality).

The FCC has put forth their stance against net neutrality in a proposal entitled “Restoring Internet Freedom”, which can be found at: https://www.fcc.gov/restoring-internet-freedom. The FCC states that through “market-based policies” and “…  [reducing] needless red tape, the Commission hopes that these proposals [ending net neutrality] will spur broadband deployment throughout the country, bringing better, faster Internet service to more Americans and boosting competition and choice in the broadband marketplace” (https://www.fcc.gov/restoring-internet-freedom). The concept that certain aspects of society are present for the common good seems alien to the current FCC as does the fact that ‘the market’ cannot solve all problems or protect foundational rights.

If net neutrality is removed, many believe the openness and fairness of the internet will be chipped away at and that ‘fast lanes’ as well as ‘slow lanes’ will be created. It is though that internet providers will keep the ‘fast lanes’ for delivering their own content or will give access to the ‘fast lanes’ to the highest bidder, which would not be small businesses, entrepreneurs, the up-coming or individual citizens (http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/24/technology/fcc-net-neutrality/?iid=EL). It seems so tragically un-American to destroy the equal playing field that is net neutrality… and it is so very American to speak up about it.

The FCC has to and is accepting public comments on its intention to remove the net neutrality law. If you would like to comment here is how:

Go to www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express and enter filing number 17-108 or type in Restoring Internet Freedom, in the Proceedings box, then fill in the form – you are the filer. Know that what you write will become part of the official government tome on this issue and can be viewed by the public; your address will be shown on the form the public can view.

If you would like a step by step on how to file a comment that shows pictures of the FCC page: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/27/how-to-comment-on-the-fccs-proposal-to-revoke-net-neutrality/ – this site also gives you some thoughts on how to compose your comment

http://www.businessinsider.com/fcc-net-neutrality-rules-how-to-comment-instructions-photos-2017-5/#the-first-thing-you-need-to-do-is-find-the-filings-page-for-the-proposal-in-the-first-place-1 – this is another site on how to file

If leaving a comment with the FCC seems too daunting then you can sign a public letter at: http://act.freepress.net/sign/internet_nn_trump/?source=sti-menu