Your right to use the internet freely is now being threatened. Trump’s Federal Communications Community (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to repeal current laws. And the vote to get rid of it is sooner than you think.
The laws known as Net Neutrality were passed in 2015 under the Obama Administration. They placed stricter rules on Internet Service Providers (ISP) and made the internet a public service.
Net Neutrality is the rule set in place to keep the internet fair. It prevents ISPs like Comcast, Dish, and Charter, from slowing down certain data, speeding up others, and blocking websites. Basically, this law makes it illegal for ISPs to pick and choose what you see based on their preferences and whoever pays them the most. Neutrality rules keep the internet free and open to anyone who has access to it.
The vote to repeal net neutrality is scheduled for December 14, 2017 which means that the very next day, your ISP could have the ability to control your internet. Packages can be offered to charge you for the use of certain apps and websites. News sites your ISP doesn’t agree with can be blocked, and even blogs and YouTube videos can be restricted.
Portugal does not have net neutrality, and it has been suggested that these packages would look much like those of Portugal’s data plans. If you like music, you would have to pay 4.99 Euros ($5.86) a month for access to apps like Spotify, Apple music, or Google play. Or if you want email, in Portugal it also costs $5.86 a month.
Getting rid of neutrality will only further divide our already divided nation. Wealthier people will be able to pay for more expensive packages allowing them to view more sites faster, while more impoverished people will be limited to fewer sites at slower speeds.
Net neutrality repeal could also interfere with the First Amendment. If your ISP is more conservative, they would be able to block more liberal blogs and sites like CNN and only allow you to view more conservative ones like Fox News. This would skew the information being brought to their customers and visa-versa.
The public is not willing to let the repeal happen without a fight. More than 200,000 phone calls have been made to Congress since Pai made his announcement. More than 500,000 comments were left on the FCC website and social media has been pressing the issue immensely.
Over 64,000 posts tagged “#netneutrality” are posted currently on Instagram, and Chairman Pai has denounced celebrities such as Cher who tweeted that the internet, “Will Include LESS AMERICANS NOT MORE.” Our access to information is at stake here.
In a statement, Pai took a shot at “Hollywood celebrities, whose large online followings give them out-sized influence in shaping the public debate.” He went on to say, “Let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”
There are a number of sites with petitions for you to sign supporting net neutrality. A petition at change.org has over 1 million signatures. If you would like to take part, all you have to do is enter your first and last name, enter your email, and press sign. That’s it. The petition will be sent to the FCC, U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate.
Another online protest at battleforthenet.com allows you to write Congress a personal message and gives you information about how to call your representatives and even tweet them. The site also gives you information about what net neutrality is, what could happen without it, and it even gives you information about when when bigger online protests are being held.
You can also call and/or email the FCC directly using their contact page at https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact. This gives you the email addresses of the leadership at the FCC.
Companies like Google and Facebook are also fighting against the repeal of neutrality. In a statement, Google said, “The FCC’s net neutrality rules are working well for consumers, and we’re disappointed in the proposal released today.”
Despite the work being put forth, we are expected to take a step back as the vote to repeal is expected to go through.