FCC

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Net Neutrality is in Danger (and it WILL Affect You)!

We’re hoping that by now, you’ve heard of net neutrality. It’s a big deal, and it’s a principle that protects many of the liberties we currently enjoy online. Repealing net neutrality can only yield unfortunate and oppressive results for anyone who actively uses the internet. We’re going to break down what it is and why repealing it is a bad idea. We’ll detail what you can do about it, and why you should. This is extremely important. But first, please read one of the recommended letters from Battle for the Net you can send to your representatives, as it thoroughly explains the threat at hand. There’s also a brief explainer video below if you don’t have the time to read this.

I urge you to stop the FCC’s plan to end net neutrality *before* the FCC’s December 14th vote.

I don’t want ISPs to have the power to block websites, slow them down, give some sites an advantage over others, split the Internet into “fast lanes” for companies that pay and “slow lanes” for the rest, or force me to buy special “tiers” to access the sites and services I choose. But that’s exactly what the FCC plan would do. Please read it here.

Blocking & throttling by ISPs is a serious problem. Comcast has throttled Netflix, AT&T blocked FaceTime, Time Warner Cable throttled the popular game League of Legends, and Verizon admitted it will introduce fast lanes for sites that pay-and slow lanes for everyone else-if the FCC lifts the rules. This hurts consumers and businesses large and small.

If some companies can pay ISPs to have their content load faster, startups and small businesses that can’t pay those fees won’t be able to compete. This will kill the open marketplace that has enabled millions of small businesses and created America’s 5 most valuable companies. Without strong net neutrality protections, Internet providers will effectively be able to impose a tax on every sector of the American economy.

Moreover, under Chairman Pai’s plan, ISPs will be able to make it more difficult to access political speech that they don’t like. They’ll be able to charge fees for website delivery that would make it harder for blogs, nonprofits, artists, and others who can’t pay up to have their voices heard.

If the FCC passes their current order, every Internet user and business in this country will be unprotected from abuse by Internet providers, and the consequences will be dire. Please publicly support net neutrality protections by denouncing the FCC’s current plan. Do whatever you can to stop Chairman Pai, to ensure that businesses and Internet users remain protected.

 

What Net Neutrality Is

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs (Internet service providers) such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T shouldn’t be allowed to control what we do and see when we’re online. It says that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to speed up some websites and slow down others, depending on who’s willing to pay up. Major critics say this could be detrimental to innovation and would make growth for start-ups even more difficult. This principle protects the interests of everyone – people and small to medium-sized businesses alike. Repealing net neutrality is a massive threat, and it only serves to benefit the financial interests of ISPs by granting them the ability to control the Internet.

 

The Threat of Repealing Net Neutrality

This battle has been going on for a long time now. In most recent events, the Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai (formerly Verizon’s Deputy General Counsel) announced the FCC’s intentions to repeal regulations (with a BUNCH of technical errors and inaccurate information) established in 2015 that limited ISPs from throttling traffic, charging for various service packages, etc. They could charge companies higher rates to become a “premium website,” offering faster speeds to those visiting. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T could begin charging you extra for additional packages to your plan (ex. For $5.99/month, you can get the social media package included in your Xfinity plan, which includes Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This plan would even allow ISPs to decide what they can censor. Entire websites could be blocked off, all at the discretion of the ISP. The proposed plan is hilariously titled “Restoring Internet Freedom,” but it will do anything BUT increase or maintain your current online liberties. Seriously – do you want that?

Comcast “throttled” Netflix, until they came to an agreement in 2014. And voilà – Netflix paid up and their video quality increased. Now imagine this, but on a much wider scale.

“Despite purchasing transit on all available routes into Comcast’s network that did not require direct or indirect payment of an access fee to Comcast, the viewing quality of Netflix’s service reached near-VHS quality levels. Faced with such severe degradation of its streaming video service, Netflix began to negotiate for paid access to connect with Comcast. Netflix and Comcast eventually reached a paid agreement. Within a week of that agreement, viewing quality for Netflix streaming video on Comcast’s network shot back up to HD-quality levels.” (Source: https://goo.gl/8joU13)

Repealing net neutrality is a threat to anyone that does business online. That’s exactly why big companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, and eBay (all members of the Internet Association) support net neutrality. In fact, there’s a chance they’re going to be proactive in response to these changes:

Members of the Internet Association could band together to fund an internet service provider that would guarantee neutrality and offer service to every American at affordable rates. Google Fiber could build out its existing services nationwide with funding from these other companies who have a huge interest in protecting open access to the net. Even if the effort is costly, it would be less expensive than the potential alternative of customers being unable to access their sites. (Source: https://goo.gl/LFoFn5)

The Opposing Argument

So, what’s the argument for repealing net neutrality? The FCC claims repealing net neutrality will open up a free market. They claim that most Americans have access to multiple options (a competitive market for providers) when it comes to choosing an ISP. This isn’t the case. Roughly 50{2869b4d23c008b413905409cba06ef793120d76f1e6c5c92f0f4cb5a7ec0d5a3} of Americans live in an area where there is only one option, usually provided by a major ISP like Comcast. Ajit Pai argues that the rules need to be repealed because there’s been a noticeable decline in broadband investment – but the numbers don’t support his assertion. Instead of a massive decline, it’s actually been fairly consistent since 2013. This is not defending a free and open internet. This is killing it.

 

What You Can Do About It… And Why You Should

50,000 net neutrality complaints were excluded from FCC’s repeal docket. Senators asked the FCC to delay the vote scheduled for December 14th, saying that “A free and open internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding…In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.”  The FCC ignored them and said there will be no delay. As a government agency, we’re seeing a lack of public service here – they are currently maneuvering to benefit major ISPs instead of being open-minded and addressing a major public concern. On the same day the FCC announced the repeal, Comcast deleted their net neutrality pledge. Their current “open internet” pledge no longer mentions paid prioritization or promising they won’t block/throttle websites – something that is, as of right now, outlawed by the standing net neutrality rules. This is terrifying stuff. Companies shouldn’t have this kind of power. They shouldn’t stand to benefit from a scheme like this with such a massive public outcry. Portugal doesn’t have net neutrality – check out what they’re having to deal with. This could be coming to the U.S. very soon if we don’t speak up. Major ISPs can split the whole internet into packages and charge us for each section. It could look like this:

Call and email Congress. This site makes it so easy to reach out to them.  Individuals and small businesses have nothing to gain, and only more to lose if this proposal is voted into effect. The internet is our public commons. A place for discourse and discovery. Net neutrality is free speech. Please do your part in defending it. If phone calls aren’t your thing, you can even text your representatives.

We believe in a free and open Internet. We’re making calls and sending emails and we’re asking you to join us. The vote is in one week, on December 14.

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Big Slate Media Team