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The battle lines are drawn and the clock is ticking. Existing net neutrality rules will be changed on May 18. The new chairman of FCC (Federal Communication Commission) Ajit Pai is set to change Obama-era net neutrality rules of equal access to the internet by putting forth a new set of rules that he opened for public comments.
Choose Your Side
On one side are telecom, broadband, and cable giants Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile and our very own FCC. On the other side are pro-net-neutrality advocates, public-interest organizations, and the general public.
Jessica Gonzalez, Deputy Director & Senior Counsel at FreePress took to Twitter to vent air against the proposed changes.
— Jessica J. González (@JGo4Justice) May 4, 2017
Others followed suit.
2/ No matter what you do on line, #NetNeutrality is key to it. It is also key to our continued access to freedom of information,
— Julie Ann Emery (@julieannemery) May 8, 2017
FCC wants to reverse one of its earlier decisions to safeguard net neutrality. Before we move on to assess how people can take a massive action to safeguard net neutrality once again, let’s get on the same page regarding what the term means.
What’s Net Neutrality After All?
Tay Zonday, a YouTube personality explains that net neutrality is the idea that “your pipe to the internet, whether it is a cable internet connection or wireless LTE connection, is not allowed to arbitrarily choose favorites in terms of the content you consume”.
The principle guides that ISPs are not allowed to limit or manipulate the content choices viewers make online.
Broadband, telecom and cable companies cannot allocate bandwidth on preferential basis. It puts everyone on the internet on an equal footing rather than Comcast, AT&T or Cox choosing which content passes from the ‘fast lane’ and which one gets throttled.
There’s More To It
There’s a pattern you may observe. Your ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are having a good year so far.
Before its move to null net-neutrality, the Trump administration had given carte blanch to ISPs on March 28, 2017, to sell/share users’ web browsing history and geolocation data with advertisers and partner companies.
The decision together with the FCC’s new move to null net-neutrality will toast internet freedom and the level playing field for smaller players.
And don’t forget that NSA still collected more than 151M phone records of the U.S citizens. We’ve already described how this impacts your online privacy.
A Brief Comparison
Let’s take a look at what the current FCC rules are regarding net neutrality and what they might look like if the proposed changes get approved.
What is it like now?
- ISPs are classified under Title II utility
- ISPs are not allowed to grant preferential treatment to their choice of content provider
What will it look like after the proposed changes?
- Move ISPs back to Title I utilities and govern them through a light-touch regulatory approach
- Declare that mobile broadband Internet access service is not a commercial mobile service (sorry Ajit, it clearly is)
- Revise FCC’s enforcement and market intervention capability
- Allow broadband, cable and telecom companies to block, throttle, and do paid prioritization.
- Eliminate the bright line and transparency rules which will effectively reduce disclosure requirements for Verizon, Comcast, and the likes.
The Buck Stops At You
It brings us to the question that if President Trump and FCC’s chairman have made-up their mind to do away with the much needed net-neutrality laws (surprisingly Ajit Pai is also canvassing for the passage of proposed changes under the guise of net-neutrality making it difficult for the common Joe to understand who should he/she support), who has the power to reverse this?
The power rests with the American citizens, the same people who ran a massive grass-roots campaign in 2014 to safeguard net neutrality. And again, we have John Oliver of HBO making it easy for you to make your opinion known by leaving a comment on the FCC’s website.
You can visit https://t.co/IO1tIHnfBU and urge the FCC to keep strong net neutrality rules backed by Title II.
— John Oliver (@iamjohnoliver) May 8, 2017
- Visit gofccyourself.com [Yes, HBO created this tongue-in-cheek link to save you from the twists and turns of FCC’s website, the link will take you straight where you need to leave a comment]
- Click EXPRESS (See image below)
- Fill in your primary contact details
3. Write a brief comment as to why you object to the proposed changes about net neutrality
4. You’re done
The time to act is now.
The Trump administration has already given carte blanch for ISPs to sell/share your web browsing history and geolocation data to anyone of their liking.
The responsibility of protecting net neutrality is ours.
Before Ajit Pai makes it difficult for you to understand the utterly boring topics of Title I, Title II, and net neutrality, head towards John Oliver’s compelling take on how not to let FCC screw up your internet freedom.