Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer appointed as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by Trump, unveiled a plan April 26th to end net neutrality. This did not come as a surprise, as Pai has long stated his opposition to the free internet, along with Verizon, Comcast and a number of other broadband and cable corporations (and their lobbyists) who stand to benefit financially from removing net neutrality. On May 1, a D.C. court ruled against the internet service providers (ISPs) in their lawsuit against the FCC for previous net neutrality rules that classified ISPs as common carriers subject to Title II regulations.
Why defend net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules were adopted in 2015 to ensure the fair and open internet, meaning that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all web traffic equally and cannot discriminate and prioritize some web data over others. Why? Because we rely on the internet every day for our jobs, schoolwork, news, entertainment, or just keeping in touch with friends and family. Without net neutrality, ISPs could charge steep fees for speedy access to to certain apps and websites (for those able to pay) and then slow down the web for everyone else. They can make access to certain sites available only to those who can afford extra charges. In other words, getting rid of net neutrality means reducing access and affordability of the internet for small businesses and entrepreneurs, communities of color and vulnerable communities.
Are net neutrality rules really all that necessary?
Check out this list of net neutrality violations and decide for yourself. The ISPs themselves say that if it wasn’t for net neutrality rules, they would be pursuing actions like blocking services and sites from users in order to force those users into paying for specific premium services and sites, denying them choice, or risk getting their access reduced.
Senator Mike Lee has hailed Pai’s plan, declaring that net neutrality is a “scheme” that threatens Internet innovation. The truth is that ending net neutrality is opposite of free market ideals by attacking the ability of the Internet to innovate.
Do you remember in 2015 when Comcast throttled the ability of Netflix to stream videos unless they began to pay more? This was in large part because Netflix was a competing product to Comcast. Comcast was able to reduce Netflix’ ability to serve their customers. It’s a little like if a competing restaurant was able to make it so that your restaurant couldn’t buy as much food to serve.
Internet consumers banded together by the millions in 2015 to get #NetNeutrality in the first place. Now we need to band together again to protect it.
Time is of the essence
Pai wants the FCC to take its first vote on his plan on May 18. Although the fight for net neutrality could last for months, it is important to show support for net neutrality starting NOW.
CALL TO ACTION
- Contact Chairman Pai and the FCC. Leave a comment with your thoughts on net neutrality on the FCC.gov website here for “Express” filing of a comment. Under “Proceeding(s)” enter “17-108”. Under “Name of Filer” enter your name. Be sure to state that you support Net Neutrality and Title II oversight of ISPs. These comments are tallied and kept for the public record. You can email Chairman Pai directly here. For added measure, leave a simple comment “I am against the rollback of net neutrality rules” by calling the FCC at: (888) 225-5322 (press 4 to “file informal complaint”, then press 2 for “all other calls”, and finally press 0 to “speak to an agent”). The FCC is counting these calls.
- Contact your MoCs today to show your support for net neutrality. Let your members of Congress know how you feel about net neutrality and the importance of defending the free and open internet for all, especially for small businesses and vulnerable communities. Find contact info for your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative here.
- Sign these petitions to show your support for net neutrality. Sign this Freepress petition and this Demand Progress petition (listed on our Petitions, Petitions! page) to show policymakers that net neutrality has millions of defenders in America who stand up for a free and open internet for all.
Freepress: “Net Neutrality 101: What You Need to Know”
Politico, April 24, 2017: “FCC Chief to launch net neutrality rewrite this week, sources say”
Freepress: “Net Neutrality Violations: A Brief History“