Why You Should Care About the Net Neutrality Vote [Urgent]

Eric Kazda  |   December 6, 2017   |  Posted in Tips

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) is set to vote on a measure to dismantle the current regulations supporting net neutrality. Why is this important? Why should you care? We’ve done our best to compile the most vital information about net neutrality here so you can understand why the internet is so fired up about this upcoming vote.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is a principle that believes the internet should be equally accessible to all users. The original terminology, created in 2002, stated that internet service providers (ISPs) should be allowed to charge based upon bandwidth usage, but could not limit user access to any content.

The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) agreed with net neutrality and reworked the principle into policy. However, major service providers like Comcast and Verizon successfully challenged these policies in 2008 and 2014 court cases. The FCC realized it needed to change the policy to stand up in the court of law. It did this in 2015 by reclassifying the internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. Establishing authority under Title II means the internet would be treated as a utility, like electricity or telephones.

The 2015 rules allow the FCC to effectively enforce net neutrality among internet providers. But now FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to dismantle these rules and has scheduled an upcoming vote to do just that. (It’s worth mentioning that Pai previously worked for telecommunication giant, Verizon, as part of their legal team). If the rules were dismantled, there would be no regulation to prevent providers like Comcast and Verizon from limiting your access to the internet.

The main two scenarios that could happen if net neutrality rules are dismantled are 1) website delivery speed adjustments and 2) extra charges for access to specific content.

Examples:

1) Website A & website B sell similar products. Website A is a larger business and pays Comcast to keep their website speed above a certain threshold. Website B is a small business and can’t afford to pay Comcast. Their website speed is slowed down, resulting in less traffic and less revenue.

2) Website A & website B offer similar products. Comcast sells internet content in tiers to its customers. The base price includes access to website A because website A has paid Comcast to include them in the first tier. Website B can’t afford to pay Comcast to increase its access level. They are only available to a user if they pay to upgrade to tier 3 of their internet service, which many users cannot afford to do.

Neither scenario bodes well for small businesses or free speech on the internet.

Watch John Oliver’s breakdown of net neutrality.

5 of the best arguments for maintaining the current net neutrality rules.

There are countless reasons why we should demand that net neutrality remain the law. Here are a few of our favorite arguments from across the web that truly show why net neutrality is important.

1. This letter to FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, from a group of entrepreneurial start-ups.

“Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the Internet would be able to
pick winners or losers in the market. They could impede traffic from our services in order
to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on
us, inhibiting consumer choice. Those actions directly impede an entrepreneur’s ability to
“start a business, immediately reach a worldwide customer base, and disrupt an entire
industry.” Our companies should be able to compete with incumbents on the quality of our
products and services, not our capacity to pay tolls to Internet access providers.

Fortunately, in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission put in place light touch net
neutrality rules that not only prohibit certain harmful practices, but also allow the
Commission to develop and enforce rules to address new forms of discrimination. We are
concerned by reports that you would replace this system with a set of minimum voluntary
commitments, which would give a green light for Internet access providers to discriminate
in unforeseen ways.”

Read the rest of the letter here.

2. The fact that the 2015 regulations were already upheld in federal court in 2016. (Source: NPR)

“Internet service providers challenged that decision [the 2015 FCC regulations], saying they weren’t opposed to the rules themselves but rejected the dramatic expansion of FCC authority over the Internet. They argued that the tighter regulations rooted in a 1934 legal statute would stifle innovation and threaten investment by the industry.

The three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled that the FCC did have the proper authority to reclassify broadband Internet under the Title II of the Telecommunications Act.”

Read the rest of the news article here.

3. The original paper on Net Neutrality from Columbia University law professor, Tim Wu.

“The questions raised in discussions of open access and network neutrality are basic to both telecommunications and innovation policy. The promotion of network neutrality is no different than the challenge of promoting fair evolutionary competition in any privately-owned environment, whether a telephone network, operating system, or even a retail store. Government regulation in such contexts invariably tries to help ensure that the short-term interests of the owner do not prevent the best products or applications becoming available to end-users. The same interest animates the promotion of network neutrality: preserving a Darwinian competition among every conceivable use of the Internet so that the only the best survive.”

Read the rest of the paper here.

4. The ACLU’s net neutrality Q & A section of their website.

“Q.
What’s the problem?
A.
Most people get their high-speed internet access from only a few telecommunications giants —AT&T, Comcast, Cox, CenturyLink, Charter, and Verizon. When we send or receive data over the internet, we expect those companies to transfer that data from one end of the network to the other. Period. We don’t expect them to analyze or manipulate it. And starting in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has had protections in place to prevent broadband providers from doing just that. But now, the Trump FCC is moving to do away with those protections.”

Read the rest of their answers to FAQs here.

5. This Moz article that details why marketers in particular should care about net neutrality.

“Why should marketers care?… Equal footing for web access creates a more even playing field. It allows websites to compete with each other without having to pay and without having to only serve different consumers who may be paying different rates to their ISPs.

It also means more players, because anyone can enter the field. Simply by registering a website and hosting it, you’re now on an even playing field technically with everyone, with Google, with Facebook, with Microsoft, with Amazon. You get the same access, at least at the fundamental ISP level, with everyone else on the Internet. That means there’s a lot more demand for competitive web marketing services, because there are many more businesses who need to compete and who can compete.”

Read the rest of the Moz article here.

What can you do to support net neutrality?

Visit Freepress’ Save the Internet website. You can learn more about the net neutrality issue, sign a petition to policymakers, and call your senators to encourage them to uphold the regulations.

If you agree that net neutrality should be upheld as the law of the land, and that internet service providers shouldn’t be allowed operate without this oversight – share the issue far and wide! Encourage others to reach out to their local senators. Make your voice heard.

What the future may look like if the FCC strikes down net neutrality

In 2011, Longmont, Colorado residents voted to make internet in their municipality available via the local government – not just private companies. Unsurprisingly, telecommunications companies spent over $400,000 to try and defeat the ballot measure but failed. Now the city is working on connecting their residents to internet that is over 900 megabits per second faster than the average internet connection from a cable or phone company. If net neutrality fails, this may be the next step for more cities and municipalities in the future. Read the rest of the article about Longmont’s ballot measure here.

What are your thoughts on net neutrality? Do you support the current FCC regulations? Let us know in the comments!

Subscribe to our blog for more content

We’ll email you when we have new content that we think you’ll enjoy. Sign up with your email and get notified with the latest digital marketing news and advice! Subscribe now!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Eric

About
Eric Kazda

Eric Kazda is a leading expert in the interactive development industry with over fifteen years of experience. With a mastery of critical development technologies, Eric has crafted innovative award-winning work for clients both large and small. Coupling this knowledge with a real world understanding of usability and technological feasibility, his work is developed to be accessible by every user.

Read more by Eric