Net Neutrality and You

Tomorrow, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will hold a vote to effectively repeal net neutrality. This will have a disastrous effect on how we use the internet today. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn defines Net Neutrality as the concept that consumers and businesses should be able to reach the online
applications and services of their choosing without interference from their broadband provider. In other words, that all data and all legal traffic that travels over the Internet should be treated equally.

So what does its repeal mean for us? Well, for starters, it means that Comcast could block all content that doesn’t come from NBC, or charge you more to view content from their competitors. It also means that ISPs would be able to charge you based on how much data you use and when you use your data. There would be nothing stopping ISPs from throttling your connection or outright blocking content they do not want you to see. What’s to stop Verizon from blocking access to all news that isn’t Yahoo News, since Verizon owns Yahoo. What’s to stop ISPs from charging you to access certain social media sites like Facebook and Twitter? Net Neutrality prevents that, and Chairman Pai wants to remove it.

How can we fight back? I’m going to be real with you, there’s a 99.99999999% chance that this vote passes. Once that happens, we’re in a long protracted legal battle over the future of the internet. So how can you help in the meantime? By leaving comments on the FCC’s website. Yes, technically the commenting period is over but you are still allowed to file and voice your concerns, and those comments will be helpful as the legal battles go on. Gigi Sohn, the former council to Tom Wheeler gives 4 steps to follow when writing an FCC Comment

1. Write about yourself and how the net neutrality rules have affected you
If you use the internet in any capacity, write about it. Have you used the internet to launch your small business? Connect with a loved one? Complete your degree program, whether it was high school, college, or post graduate? Write about that experience.

2. Write about what you understand you are buying when you purchase broadband Internet access
When you buy a package from Verizon, what is it that you’re actually buying? For the decision to be upheld the ISPs have to prove that their customers aren’t just buying “internet access”, but if that’s all you’re using them for then write about that.

3. Write about the choices you have (or don’t) for broadband Internet access
Sohn writes that, “An April 2017 FCC report demonstrates the fallaciousness of such an assertion – it shows that 58% of Americans have access to either zero or one broadband ISP, and 87% have access to just two.” If you don’t have a true choice, write about that.

4. Write about what role you think the FCC should have in overseeing the market for broadband Internet access
If you don’t want the ISPs to run rampant as they have attempted to in the past and believe in strong federal oversight, let the FCC know!

This will not be easy, but it can be done. A lot of your favorite content creators and small businesses depend on an unfettered internet to function and survive. How reporting and journalism is conducted in 2017 depends on net neutrality. Our daily lives are tied to the internet and it is imperative that we do not hand it over to corporations who are only interested in profit.

Link to Gigi Sohn’s instructions: http://mashable.com/2017/06/15/how-to-write-a-good-fcc-comment/
Link to leave comments: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/proceedings?q=name:((17-108))