Some of you may notice something different about your favorite websites today. For example, you may notice that, in addition to a slow-typing message on Reddit when you try to read it, Reddit’s logo looks like this:
Today a bunch of Internet companies, including Reddit, Google, Twitter and others are trying to spread the word and build public opposition to proposed FCC rule changes that would threaten net neutrality once again.
You may remember an episode like this a few years ago, but let’s recap. Net neutrality is the principle that an internet service provider (ISP) should not (and for now, cannot) change change their service based on the data being transmitted. Websites such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc. are all treated as being the same; the ISP does not speed up, slow down, or block the data because it comes from these websites. All Internet data is treated as being the same.
The FCC tried to reduce net neutrality protections years ago (under the Obama administration) and the result was a public outcry not just from websites and tech companies but from the netizens themselves. This lead to the FCC backing off.
In 2015, in a lawsuit brought by ISPs such as Verizon, courts ruled that the FCC would need to designate ISPs as a utility in order to be able to enforce net neutrality rules, so the FCC changed the legal designation of ISPs to do this. Now, under the Trump administration, the FCC is run by Chairman Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, and he is keenly interested in killing net neutrality and bringing a radical free-market approach to the FCC, using slogans like “restore internet freedom” to put lipstick on the “kill net neutrality” pig.
He is doing this by changing the regulatory designation of ISPs so that net neutrality rules are defanged. He seems to think he can get ISPs to pledge to respect net neutrality in their policies, and this will be enough to protect the Internet.
Net neutrality protected by pinky promises? One of the following words must describe Chairman Pai: mad, corrupt, or dumb.
I implore my readers to help protect net neutrality by making your voices heard. Go to battleforthenet.com to send a letter to the FCC and get on a call with your Congressional delegation to voice your support for net neutrality protection and stop Chairman Pai’s schemes. If you want more information, perhaps watch this clip by John Oliver, where he explains the issue in greater depth.
I decided not to use the provided letter when writing my Congressional delegation (I worry about form letters and whether they will have the same effect as personalized ones). So in writing to my Congressional delegation (Sen. Hatch, Sen. Lee, and Rep. Love), I wrote the following:
To my Congressional delegation,
The FCC, under Chairman Pai, is considering new rules that will weaken net neutrality protection.
In 2015, in response to anti-net neutrality lawsuits brought by ISPs such as Verizon (who oppose net neutrality), the FCC reclassified ISPs as utilities in order to protect net neutrality. Now the ISPs are pushing the FCC, under Chairman Pai (a former Verizon lawyer and fox in charge of guarding the hen house) to remove that designation and thus give them free reign to curb net neutrality. They would be free to boost or restrict access based on the data being sent (that is, the websites that users are visiting or the content that users submit online).
Chairman Pai claims that the companies will voluntarily respect net neutrality. The companies themselves claim they will. Rubbish. If companies were going to voluntarily respect these rules, they would have no reason to be pushing so hard for their reversal, spending millions of dollars in lawsuits and lobbying to kill net neutrality rules. They have never historically shown any interest in net neutrality preservation. They make their promises with fingers crossed behind their backs, and Chairman Pai knows it.
Chairman Pai is a crazed free-marketeer. I have no reason to believe that less regulation of ISPs (particularly in the issue of net neutrality) will lead to a better Internet experience for me. The ISP market is not a free market; it consists of a handful of for-profit companies (an oligopoly), not only with profit but also political agendas that could taint their service, who could easily make the Internet a less expressive environment and kill the innovation the Internet brings. For all the talk of government ruining markets, I believe the ISPs are the greatest threat to the Internet we know.
Being legislators, I beg you to protect the Internet by pressuring the FCC and Chairman Pai to back away from his Internet-killing rule changes. I have written to you and others in my delegation before and have only been disappointed by your actions, responses, and statements. I hope this time will be different.
I’ve lived in this state for a long time and know that Sen. Hatch and Sen. Lee are tools that prefer to be on the wrong side of issues (Rep. Love is slightly better, but only slightly). So please write to your Congressional delegation; they may be more useful than mine.