An example of what the Internet could look like without Net Neutrality.

Next week on December 14th, the FCC will be holding a vote to repeal net neutrality. This is an issue that is going seriously overlooked. Most people aren’t aware that if net neutrality is repealed the way that we live our lives could change drastically. To provide more information about this important issue I interviewed a former senior FCC official, who has chosen to remain unnamed.  

Question: For those who don’t know can you please explain the concept of Net Neutrality?

Answer: The principle of Net Neutrality is that all lawfully transmitted data traveling over the Internet should be treated equally from one end of the network to the other, regardless of the sender, recipient, content, application or purpose.

Question: Who is opposed to the current laws that we have in place and why?

Answer: There are range of opponents to the FCC’s current Net Neutrality rules, though the most prominent are broadband internet service providers, ISPs, like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.  These companies cite a number of reasons for their opposition, including, that the current Net Neutrality rules:

  1. Represent “regulatory overreach” by the FCC in applying regulations designed for regulating public utilities, like telephone service, to a dynamic information service like the Internet that is not suited for heavy regulatory oversight;
  2. Have discouraged ISPs from investing in their networks and services;
  3. Have discouraged ISPs from innovating with new products; and
  4. Are unnecessary because the ISPs do not engage in the “bad behavior” that the rules are designed to prevent, such as ISPs blocking certain content or services, throttling Internet speeds or creating “paid priority” fast lanes for some data.

Question: What is the likelihood of Net Neutrality being repealed?

Answer: All three Republican Commissioners have vocally expressed their support for repealing the Net Neutrality rules and, since passage of the repeals only requires three votes, the likelihood of the Net Neutrality rules being repealed is very high.

Question: What effect would the repeal of Net Neutrality have on the average American?

Answer: It is hard to say. Opponents of the current rules would argue that repeal would have no effect on the average American or even that it will help the average American by removing barriers to ISP investment in faster and more ubiquitous networks and better products. Supporters of the current rules would argue that it could cripple the Internet, impede consumer access to their preferred websites and services, harm competition in new applications and services, and harm small businesses and startups trying to use the Internet as a platform for growth.

Personally, I think that the repeal could have very significant negative impacts and empower ISPs to begin using practices that will ultimately harm businesses and consumers who, in most markets, have few, if any, alternative ways to access the Internet.

Question: If one wanted to help preserve Net Neutrality what steps could they take?

Answer: Call and write your elected representatives in Congress.

The internet is an integral part of the lives of the average American in 2017. This is an issue that calls for all of us as Americans to take action. No matter what race, sex, gender, sexual orientation or political belief, Americans will be negatively affected should net neutrality be repealed. Ajit Varadaraj Pai is the chairman of the FCC, the regulating body of interstate communication over radio, television, the internet and more.

Pai has come under fire recently for coming out in support of ending net neutrality. Pai claims that this will help the American people, when the reality is that the only party that will benefit from the repeal of net neutrality is Big Cable. People rely on the internet for a variety of services, this will only make it more difficult for people to access to these crucial services. It is of the utmost importance that we do everything we can to save net neutrality.

Contact lawmakers, attend protests (like the one happening in Fresno today 12/7/2017), let your voice be heard. Net neutrality is necessary for a free and open internet and we must do all we can possibly do to defend it.

Enrique Little (he/him/his)

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