FCC Commissioners are set to vote on Net Neutrality this Thursday. The Commission will likely vote along party lines – 3 yes repeal votes from the Rs and 2 no repeal votes from the Ds. It would then be up to Congress, or the courts, to halt, delay, or repeal the repeal.
One of the interesting additions that California Senator Kamala Harris points out in her op-ed is that
Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the FCC designated by this administration, is forcing a vote this week to get rid of those net neutrality rules. Even more outrageous, he is hoping to ban states from establishing their own consumer protection rules.
There is deep concern that the ‘tolls‘ the large internet providers might charge websites will stifle a lot of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists. You can get in touch with your Member of Congress and tell them to task the Senate FCC Oversight Committee with censuring or delaying the FCC’s vote. Multiple tech leaders are asking for that action, saying the FCC Chair is using flawed information (and famously, supposedly millions of bots’ comments pro-repeal!) to push the net neutrality repeal through.
We seriously think Net Neutrality is a very important issue, and implore you to take action immediately.
How do I know? WMNF’s Board of Directors rarely do on air editorials, and they did one about preserving Net Neutrality:
“The Federal Communications Commission is expected to repeal net neutrality rules on Thursday, December 14th. Net neutrality is the principle of an open internet. Maintaining net neutrality prevents Internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from blocking or slowing down what we see and do on the Internet. If the FCC eliminates Net Neutrality rules, internet providers will be able to charge extra fees for the fastest internet speeds, eliminating a level playing field on the internet.. But it’s not too late to save the Internet as we know it! Congress has the power to stop the FCC! Battleforthenet.com makes it easy to contact your lawmakers and demand they stop this. Visit battleforthenet.com to take action now!”
What is Net Neutrality, and why does it need a day of action?
Let’s look at this fun graphic! It involves pizza.
Why would anyone want to limit our pizza delivery? Well, lots of reasons, but the main two are money and regulations.
In 2015, after several years of lobbying and political actions, the FCC classified broadband (internet access) the same as telephones – as a utility, which altered the way it is regulated. When broadband is considered a utility, that means that we have a right to use it. Different users can’t be charged different amounts for regular access. Internet service providers should give all of their customers equal access to content, whether it comes from a huge corporation, or the little downtown St. Pete coffee shop.
People against net neutrality say that the regulations stifle innovation, and they are an unnecessary restriction on businesses. The current FCC chair, Ajit Pai, has said that he fears companies won’t invest in upgrading infrastructure if they aren’t making enough money.
Why do all those big corporations care?
Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, Vimeo, Bandcamp, Dropbox, Pinterest, Tumblr, Yelp, Spotify, and scores more sites are participating in Net Neutrality Day. Why do all of these companies care? It takes the internet to access them, and the internet to come up with innovations. From the Internet Association website:
Since its inception, the Internet has been governed by principles of openness and non-discrimination. Net neutrality is the legal principle that underpins the free and open Internet as we know it today. Simply put, it means that broadband gatekeepers – Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other Internet service providers (ISPs) – should treat all Internet traffic equally and not discriminate between different bits of data. That’s how the Internet works today: users can go to any website and access any type of content, whenever they want.
John Oliver also really cares.
John Oliver’s video earlier this year prompted a flood of comments to the FCC’s website in support of net neutrality. He hosts the news/comedy late night show Last Week Tonight, and early in the life-cycle of that show he also laid out the case for net neutrality.
And this is the more recent one
So why is there a day of action?
The FCC is taking public comments on the plan to change Title II Net Neutrality to a less regulated status, which they have delightfully named, Restoring Internet Freedom, until July 17. The day of action is a way to clarify what the issues are around net neutrality, and motivate people to comment with the FCC, or with their members of congress. President Trump appointed Ajit Pai chair, promoting him from commissioner. Chairman Pai has long been an opponent of net neutrality, and now has a Republican majority on the commission.
WMNF News’ Seán Kinane interviewed Laila Abdelaziz, a digital campaigner at Fight For the Future.
“Rights of the Future is digital rights non-profit organization that is committed to basically defending and preserving our human rights in the digital world. We are one of many other organizations hosting the internet-wide Day of Action to save Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality rules are basically the First Amendment of the internet, they protect our free speech, in the digital age, online.
“More than 70,000 websites, online services, internet users are participating in the internet-wide Day of Action. Some websites, on applications, are sending notifications to their members and their users about what’s at threat here and what the Federal Communications Commission is proposing when it comes to the Free Internet Order. Websites are participating in lots of unique ways based on how they interact with their members and users.”
And you might see certain icons or logos on the pages that indicate that ‘if there was no net neutrality, this website might be blocked or might be slow’, something like that. What does that mean?
“Yeah. Absolutely. So, the principles of Net Neutrality protect internet users from internet service providers, like Comcast and Verizon from slowing down, locking, censoring and charging extra fees online; different applications, different websites, for example.
“I mean, we have such a wide range of websites participating from Amazon to Netflix to Kickstarter and Etsy and Reddit, OkCupid, Airbnb, even Facebook and Google are going to participate in one way or another. People will see ‘slow loading’ icons. People will see ‘internet censorship’ messages. People will see various ways that basically try to show internet users that without Net Neutrality, internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon will have the power to control the internet; to create ‘fast lanes’ for those who can afford to pay more fees to internet service providers, which will essentially put the vast majority of internet users in slow lanes. The ways that companies and websites and bloggers and YouTubers and even the Internet Creators Guild, which represents YouTubers and creators on YouTube, have joined and over 100 YouTube creators have sent a letter to the FCC, against the FCC’s plan to repeal Net Neutrality rules as well.”
If people want to get involved, where can they go?
“People can visit http://battleforthenet.com/july12. They can sign up to participate. Basically, what participating looks like for the average internet user is making sure that you visit battleforthenet.com and submit a comment that will go to the FCC and your members of congress, rejecting the FCC’s plan to repeal Net Neutrality rules.”
Abdelaziz is also a member of WMNF’s Board of Directors.
(This was originally posted on 7/12/17)