The battle for Net Neutrality is nearly as old as the internet itself; as long as the web has existed, internet service providers (ISPs) have searched for ways to further monetize and monopolize on it. If you’re still unsure what net neutrality is, and why it’s so vital, here’s a primer we wrote up three years ago – the last time net neutrality was at stake.
After the last battle, it seemed the war was mostly won; major pressure on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from millions of US citizens to maintain an open internet resulted in a 2015 set of protections and rules. At the urging of the vast majority, the internet was reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act. In practice, this meant the massive telecom companies couldn’t interfere with how the internet was delivered by slowing or altogether blocking certain websites.
Earlier this year, net neutrality once again came under fire when President Trump announced that he had named Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, as the new chariman of the FCC. Before he was named as the new head of the FCC, Pai said that a “weed whacker” should be taken to net neutrality laws, and that’s exactly what he intends to do.
So what’s so bad about this? Unless you’re a politician receiving major monetary donations from telecom companies in favor of dismantling net neutrality, or at the top of the food chain in the telecom industry, essentially everything. Without net neutrality protections, your ISP can create paid fast lanes for internet traffic, while slowing everyone else down. They can also flat-out block websites.
If you want to see a nightmarish example of this in a country where there are no such protections, just look to Portugal; you have to pay for separate packages to access music, video, social networks, messaging, and more. No matter what, it means that the average individual is going to have to pay more to access the internet – likely a lot more – and entire portions of the internet might be cordoned off. It’s all up to your ISP to decide that.
It’s worrying, too, that Comcast (one of the major ISPs that swore up and down they would never do anything to harm the open internet) recently heavily amended their statement to uphold net neutrality, just a day after the FCC made a concrete move to end net neutrality. That’s worrisome news, at the very least.
On December 14th, the FCC will vote on Pai’s proposal to kill net neutrality and the open internet. We must do everything we can to prevent this from coming to pass.
So what can you do? Attend a protest. Write congress. Call your senators. Spread awareness online. Make your voice heard.
Visit battleforthenet.com to find all the information you need to join the fight and help preserve the future of the open internet. If you don’t, chances are you’d never even see posts like this – your ISP wouldn’t let you. And you’d be paying a lot more to see whatever they would allow.