On net neutrality’s “Day-of-Action”, we try and explain why net neutrality is vital and something worth fighting for.
In the past, we have talked extensively about the importance of net neutrality, whether it was about the FCC’s proposed “fast lanes” to the Obama administration proposing net neutrality standards after much public push-back. But all that looks to be in danger thanks to the Trump administration and his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Head, Ajit Pai. Here’s Pai talking about why we should get rid of net neutrality.
So for net neutrality’s “Day-of-Action”, we figured the best way to understand the importance of net neutrality was to explain it.
What Exactly is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is a pretty simple idea in that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. That means your ISP provider – ie the company that supplies your Internet connection to you like Time-Warner Cable or Verizon – shouldn’t block or downgrade access to a certain websites and services or promote others through better access. So whether you are looking up cancer research on a college database, donating to charities on JustGive, or more importantly, watching an exhibitionist couple go at it on PornHub, your Internet provider shouldn’t discriminate access based on what you’re doing online.
So Why is Any of This Important?
Proponents of net neutrality say it’s through these ideals that have made the Internet into the bastion of innovation that it has been in the last ten years. By keeping the barriers of entry low, guys like Mark Zuckerberg didn’t have to get permission from his Internet provider to create Facebook. He just created it and put it up online. Without net neutrality, advocates argue ventures like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Skype, and numerous others wouldn’t have been viable.
Without net neutrality, ISP providers could also potentially block certain sites or online content for its users by either (a) putting up a pay wall to gain access to more popular sites or (b) blocking content that they feel could damage their brand. Even though ISP providers have insisted that it would never come to blocking content for its users, the question we should all be asking ourselves, why would we ever want to give ISP providers that kind of power in the first place?
Hold On, Isn’t the FCC Supposed to Protect Us from Exactly This?
Actually, at one time, it did!
Julius Genachowski, former chair of the FCC, created something called the Open Internet Order back in 2010. It basically was designed to protect net neutrality by making Internet providers be more transparent with their policies and prohibited them from blocking content online. However, Verizon ended up challenging the FCC’s Open Internet Order arguing that the agency had overstepped its bounds with its new rules. After a three-year court battle, the DC Appeals Court in early 2014 sided with Verizon and struck down the set regulations. The court ruled that based on the laws that Congress had set by creating the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC had overstepped its authority by regulating “information services”, which by law they had no right to regulate.
Since then, the FCC has been hesitant to create new rules regarding net neutrality. Part of this has to do with FCC chairs traditionally being uncomfortably cozy with telecommunications and media companies. After MUCH public pushback, it looked like this issue was resolved with the Obama administration upholding net neutrality standards. Sadly, with the Trump administration – particularly with his choice for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – they look to rollback many of net neutrality’s protections.
So What Can We Do?
Let the FCC know that you support net neutrality. Of course, this is a lot more complicated than it was a few years ago, but we provided some links that gives you options to do it painlessly. If you want to give them a pre-written letter, you can do that here. If you want your message to have a more personal touch, go here.
It’s important to let your voice be heard, because net neutrality is worth fighting for!
(Photo Credit: Pixabay.com, Google Images)