What the Fudge is going on with Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality has been in the news recently, but in our business, we find that a lot of people don’t truly understand what is going on. Let us break it down for you.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the principle that the internet should be free and unimpeded. This ensures that freedom of speech is maintained. This seems a little scary, so let’s break it down a little further.
[bctt tweet="Net Neutrality is the principle that the internet should be free and unimpeded. This ensures that freedom of speech is maintained. Fight for #NetNeutrality!" username="Techno_Goober"]
Once upon a time…
You could only access the internet through Walled Gardens that AOL and Yahoo! and MSN set up. These Walled Gardens only allowed you to travel to sites that the big three thought were appropriate. They had the ability to block or discriminate against applications, websites, and content at their will. Then as the internet grew the big three lost control over their Walled Gardens and users had free access to any site on the internet.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted Net Neutrality rules that ensured that providers couldn’t setup Walled Gardens anymore, thus ensuring the internet’s freedom and users’ access to information. Congress and President Obama passed a law that protected the FCC’s ruling.
As of 2017, the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has introduced new guidelines to cut Net Neutrality and permit internet providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to control the internet and create Walled Gardens again.
Modern technology would actually give even more power to the new big three though. Internet providers could go so far as to slow down sites that are in direct competition with themselves or charge users more money to access certain sites. Gutting Net Neutrality would be like your phone company deciding who you can and cannot call.
[bctt tweet="Gutting #NetNeutrality would be like your phone company deciding who you can and cannot call. " username="Techno_Goober"]
Comcast could use its power over the internet to speed up Xfinity streaming, but systematically slow-down or impede our access to Netflix, Hulu, independent streaming sites, and more.
Lobbyists could donate a ton of money to a major company like Verizon in exchange for political power. Then the lobbyists could block certain websites that express a certain political belief. This could affect our freedom of information on both sides of the political spectrum.
What’s the Other Side Saying?
We wouldn’t be doing this article justice if we didn’t point out the reasoning behind the gutting of Net Neutrality protections.
Chairman Pai believes that Net Neutrality prevents competition between internet providers. His argument is that repealing Net Neutrality protections would force internet providers to compete with each other and lower prices for the consumer.
The counterpoint is that Pai neglects to consider the influence of parent companies. Most internet providers are owned by a single parent company, and that parent company would not need to compete with itself, meaning it could control prices even more without Net Neutrality protections.
The Fight is NOT Over
On Dec. 14, 2017, the FCC approved Pai’s plan, which could spell serious changes to the way the internet functions and our access to the internet as users.
However, the FCC doesn’t have the final say. Congress can overturn the FCC’s vote with a “resolution of disapproval.” This means that if enough Congress members disagree with the new plan, they can band together to restore Net Neutrality. Support this!
[bctt tweet="There's still time! Tell Congress to protect #NetNeutrality and say 'No' to the FCC. Sign the petition. http://bit.ly/2BuMiQC" username="Techno_Goober"]
What do we do now?
There are lots of things you can do to help stop these unreasonable restrictions on our Freedom of Speech. I’ve broken them down below in the order of the amount effort they require.
1. Be angry.
Get angry. Get really freaking angry. And stay angry. This affects everybody. You should care. You should care a lot. We aren’t giving up.
2. Sign the petition.
Sign the petition. Put your name in there and join the thousands (even millions) of other people who are also telling Congress to protect our rights. For a little extra effort, tell them why you’re signing the petition.
3. Share with your friends.
Share the petition, your anger, and your thoughts. Tell everyone why you’re angry and why they should care. Share this article to inform your friends. Don’t forget why you’re angry. When we all forget about it, they win. Use #NetNeutrality to tweet about it.
Resources to share with your friends:
[bctt tweet="Do you know why #NetNeutrality matters? Learn more and get angry." username="Techno_Goober"]
4. Contact Congress.
I know. This one requires a lot of effort, but it’s super important. Email Congress. Call Congress. Send a postcard. Do it. Remind your elected officials that they represent us, not their own interests, and we demand free and unimpeded access to the internet. Use Voice Big to contact anyone in Congress and build your email/letter.
5. Support Delaware
I told you all hope is not lost. Delaware, and several other states, have vowed to file a joint legal challenge to the FCC’s new Net Neutrality regulations if it passes Congress. Attorney General Matt Denn is not giving up. Contact him (@Matt_Denn) to let him know you support his decisions to stand up for our rights.
[bctt tweet="Thanks for supporting #NetNeutrality @Matt_Denn! #ProudDelawarean" username="Techno_Goober"]