What is Net Neutrality?
By now, you may have heard of net neutrality in the news, but I think there are still many people out there who don’t really understand what it is or why it is important. (I quizzed some of my own friends and family members before deciding to write this post and came up with blank looks in many instances.)
Very simply, net neutrality are rules that were put into place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that keep the Internet a free and equitable place to hang out. Right now, under the current rules, the companies who operate Internet services like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc., are prevented from:
- “Blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices.
- Throttling: Broadband providers may not deliberately target some lawful internet traffic to be delivered to users more slowly than other traffic.
- Paid prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some internet traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind. Internet service providers are also banned from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.” (Source: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/open-internet)
If net neutrality goes away, which websites you can view on the Internet will be essentially under the control of these companies. They will be able to block websites they don’t like, or charge a premium if you’d like your website to load faster than other people’s. The result of net neutrality destruction will very likely benefit rich corporations and individuals with the money to pay the premiums, and will marginalize organizations and causes fighting for social justice.
Why is it important?
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether to change or repeal net neutrality. The FCC chairman appointed by the sitting President of the United States is a man named Ajit Pai. He’s spearheading the efforts to dismantle net neutrality, and interestingly enough, is a former attorney for Verizon.
Also interestingly enough, the FCC lists the virtues of net neutrality on their own website: The Open Internet. While I’m hoping one Republican politician will not hold enough sway to convince the rest of the Commission to destroy net neutrality, I’m still concerned.
What can you do about it?
If, after reading this, you are also concerned, I encourage you to email or message the FCC to tell them how you feel. There are a number of websites available where you can do this easily. Here are just a few that come up in a Google Search (for the record, I have no affiliation with any of these):