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Opinion

Net neutrality is under threat, but there’s something you can do about it

Carl Meeker

November 29, 2017

It began as a series of experiments in the 1960s. Few at that time could have envisioned how their creation would revolutionize every facet of our world.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the internet was released to the public. At that time it was home to message boards, emails and little else. Now it is populated with movies, shows, funny videos of animals and political, social and economic movements. It allows us to communicate with others around the entire world in a matter of seconds in ways that were science fiction only several decades ago.

One of the guiding principles of the internet has been the concept that all information is equal. Internet service providers, or ISPs, cannot discriminate against what you do on the internet whether that’s organizing a protest against those same ISPs or binge watching Netflix and Hulu. They cannot arbitrarily throttle and slow down that connection. This is the principle of Net Neutrality.

Over the last decade, many of these ISPs have begun to test that principle by slowing down connection speeds to numerous online services, blocking a site that was organizing a labor strike and blocking facetime services like Skype and VoiP.

The Federal Communications Commission is charged with regulating all communication services from the telephone to the internet. In response to the ISPs push against this founding principle, the FCC, under the Chair Tom Wheeler, issued new regulations in 2015 classifying all ISPs as Title II Common Carriers. This allowed the FCC legal footing to enshrine and enforce Net Neutrality.

Numerous ISPs, including Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, have been fighting this tooth and nail by pouring millions of dollars into the pockets of various politicians. They want to be able to slow down, if not outright block, other internet services that compete with services that they provide. They want to be able to censor the internet and anything that might threaten their business model and profit margins. They are anti-consumer, anti-free speech, anti-democracy and anti-innovation.

In 2017, Ajit Pai, a former lawyer to Verizon, was made the new Chair of the FCC. Under his guidance, the FCC has been pushing for the repeal of the Title II classification of ISPs. On Dec. 14, 2017, the FCC is holding a vote to repeal these regulations.

The future of the free and open internet is at a crossroads. Will it be controlled and dominated by entrenched corporate interests? Or will it continue to be the bastion of innovation and free speech it has always been?

We must fight! There are numerous organizations that are working to fight this repeal. For more information you can check out battleforthenet.com, the ACLU, freepress.net, eff.org and fightforthefuture.org. However, these organizations need our help. Through these sites there are various methods to contact your government representatives. It doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to contact them and let them know that you support the regulation of the internet as a Title II Common Carrier.

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