On Tuesday, the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it will be rolling back laws enshrining net neutrality, ending the internet as we know it. The five member committee will vote on December 14th on the proposal.
While this will primarily impact on those in the USA, if you have clients or staff in the US and you rely on the internet for any part of your communication it will very likely impact on you too.
For those in the US, there is information at the end of this post on what you can do in response to this decision. Can’t wait until the end of the article? Visit www.battleforthenet.com now!
On a personal note, Safe Travels Magazine depends entirely on the internet. A lot of the information we share is open source, gathered from various news sites each morning. Many of our readers are in the US – what will happen if they can’t access the website? Beyond these practical considerations, the idea of making it easier to censor the internet is terrifying. It is crucial people make their voices heard on this topic.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should not interfere in the information they transmit to consumers, but should instead simply act as “dumb pipes” that treat all uses, from streaming video to sending tweets, interchangeably.
By scrapping net neutrality, a tiered internet will become a reality in the US.
This new approach would favour established companies and websites, and make it much harder for newcomers to break in to the market. Organisations could gain a significant edge over their competition by partnering with the ISPs. If you rely on a website to signpost customers to your business or your clients access a product or service online, consider how this might affect you. Wired Magazine explains how difficult it can be for small companies to get a meeting, let alone an agreement, and that this can cost them customers. The New York Times explores how the changes could cripple small businesses.
It would also make it easier for ISPs to censor websites they do not like the content of and to promote those that they do. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press remain crucial to healthy democracies. History has shown time and again that stifling both is often the first move made by authoritarian rules.
This video explains the situation neatly (some readers may find it offensive) –
What the end of net neutrality will mean
In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages. pic.twitter.com/TlLYGezmv6
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 27, 2017
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 21, 2017
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) November 22, 2017
This could be what US internet plans could look like very soon if the current #netneutrality laws are repealed…Additionally, nothing would prevent ISPs from blocking competitor content or services ? you better believe the second an ISP can legally charge you more, they will ? pic.twitter.com/35dsaobEhq
— Alex Flaxenburg (@flaxenburg) November 22, 2017
What you can do
If you are NOT an American, the most important thing you can do is spread the word. Make people aware of what is at stake and share resources.
If you are an American, there are many several things you can do!
The most important is to contact your representatives and the FCC. Reddit user crossroads525 suggested this script –
If you’re calling your senators, you can just repeat these words: “This is [NAME] from [CITY, STATE] and I support ‘Title Two’ net neutrality rules & I urge you to oppose the FCC’s plan to repeal them. Specifically, I’d like you to contact the FCC Chairman & demand he abandon his current plan. Please tell Mr. Ajit Pai that preserving net neutrality is essential to fair and equal access to the information and resources on the internet.”
If you’re calling the FCC (202-418-1000), just say this: “This is [NAME] from [CITY, STATE] and I support ‘Title Two’ net neutrality rules & I urge you to oppose Mr. Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal them. Preserving net neutrality is essential to fair and equal access to the information and resources on the internet. Please abandon the proposal to repeal the current net neutrality protections.”
Script for calling, as well as names and numbers of the people you need to call:
Write to your representative
You can find out who your representatives are on these websites –
Some tips for when you write to your representative –
- Explain how the changes to net neutrality will negatively affect you. Tie this to your being a citizen and a voter.
- Tell them what you use the internet for – talking to clients abroad, sharing tutorials, monitoring clients, providing remote support. Make it real and tell your representative how crucial the internet is to your business.
- Make it clear that you are a real organisation/person and that this is not some generic letter.
Remember, always be polite!
Sign the White House Petition
This is where you will find the White House petition to save Net Neutrality.
Some more on what these changes mean
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) November 22, 2017
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 22, 2017
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 22, 2017
- The Guardian: Net neutrality: why are Americans so worried about it being scrapped?
- Wired Magazine: Here’s How the End of Net Neutrality Will Change the Internet
- The Independent: Net neutrality repeal allows internet to only consist of government-sanctioned sites, campaigners warn
- The New York Times: Rollback of Net Neutrality Has Small Businesses Worried
- The Verge: FCC announces vote to destroy net neutrality next month
- Tech Crunch: FCC will vote whether to delete net neutrality on December 14
- The Guardian: Net neutrality: Should UK citizens be worried about US changes?
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