An immense a wave of intense opposition has risen over the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to allow companies like Verizon and Comcast to block or slow down websites that refuse to pay them or create internet “fast lanes” for broadcasters that fork over extra cash and their own propitiatory traffic.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, announced last month that the agency would vote to scrap net neutrality rules governing how internet service providers handle web traffic, which were adopted in 2015 to prevent Internet companies from controlling what users can see and hear.
The plan has unleashed instant backlash from net neutrality supporters, who have been rallying to save the rules that protect free speech and consumer choices.
Lisa McCormick? said dozens of people have retweeted her message asking people to leave a voicemail for the FCC chairman stating that they oppose the repeal of Net Neutrality rules.
According to battleforthenet.com, a group that is applying pressure, almost a million people called Congress since Pai announced his plan.
“Comcast, Verizon and AT&T want to end net neutrality so they can control what we see & do online,” said a statement from the group.”First, they want to gut FCC rules in a December 14 vote. Then, they plan to pass bad legislation that allows extra fees, throttling & censorship. But Congress can put a stop to all of this.”
Activists are planning hundreds of demonstrations at Verizon stores and congressional offices across the country next week in protest of the planned vote. Pai was associate general counsel at Verizon from 2001 to 2003.
Evan Greer, the campaign director for the pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future, said she was surprised by the outpouring of support for net neutrality in the days following Pai’s announcement just before Thanksgiving.
Protests against the rollback of net neutrality protections are scheduled outside the Verizon store at 2490 US Highway 22 Center Island Union NJ 07083 on Thursday, Dec 7 at 6p.m.
Additional protests are slated at Verizon stores at 211 N Franklin Ave Nutley NJ 07110, 29 The Promenade in Edgewater, 2601 Mount Holly Road in Burlington, and at other locations.
Net neutrality has been part of the architecture of the Internet since the very beginning,” said McCormick. “As we have seen for the past several decades, an open Internet is a tremendous engine for innovation, economic growth and global communication.”
Net neutrality is a principle in the same way that “freedom of speech” is.
We have laws that enforce net neutrality (as we do for freedom of speech), but it’s important to understand that it is a concept rather than a specific law.
Fundamentally, net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to prioritize one kind of data traffic over another. This also means they cannot block services purely for business reasons.
To give a simple example, let’s say your ISP also sells cable TV service. That ISP might want to slow down your internet access to competing online TV services or make you pay extra if you want smooth access to them.
Net neutrality means that the ISP can’t limit your access to online services. Specifically, it means the FCC, which regulates the ISPs, can write rules to prevent ISPs from preferring certain services — and the FCC did just that in 2015.
Those rules were opposed by companies including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.
Companies likeAmazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Vimeo, and Yahoo often argue that net neutrality has always been the de facto policy that allowed them to establish their businesses—and thus in turn should allow new businesses to emerge online in the future.
On May 7, 2014, more than 100 companies sent an open letter to the FCC “to express our support for a free and open internet”:
Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content o?erings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.
Proponents of net neutrality see ISPs providing a commodity service—access to the internet under specific FCC regulations—and that is not always a lucrative business to be in. But while it might be more profitable for the ISP to control our choices, that would mean consumers lose the right to choose for themselves.
As more information sources are consolidated under control of corporate conglomerates that have political agendas, depriving citizens of freedom to choose varied news sources could be directed at fabricating stories with greater credibility and allowing liars to dictate vote results. That makes the matter a grave threat to democracy itself, which is already in peril.
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