by Brett Schultz
Repealing Net Neutrality will not lead to innovation, but only to an internet traffic jam and angry customers. Comcast has announced it is adding fees to consumer’s bills and raising the prices despite their recent statements that 2018 will be a normal year.
Net Neutrality Might Not Die After all, but if it Does, Here’s What Happens
Some things the end of Net Neutrality could lead to:
· More Buffering, yet
· Increased prices and
· More fees with
· Slower Speeds, plus
· Throttling, a system of
· Fast lanes vs Slow lanes,
· Silenced minority groups,
· No more startups such as Snapchat can start,
· Less successful small businesses and
· Less YouTube channels, plus
· Stronger ISP oligopolies
· And more bad news!
Imagine your electric provider suddenly charged you a “lighting fee” for using electricity that powered your lights because they determined that a large portion of their customers use their electric for lighting. Currently, there are laws that prevent this because electricity is considered a utility, just like the internet, but they may not stay for internet.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is a term for a principle that all data should be treated equally regardless of type and platform (such as video on Hulu), and in 2015 the FCC implemented a small framework of rules to ensure the internet would remain a fair, competitive, and open place for the exchange of ideas and communication by preventing ISPs from throttling data, charging fees to customers and content providers (fast lanes and slow lanes), and overall reducing the economic effectiveness of our economy and increasing our bills.
Net Neutrality was put in place before its issues could happen, such as censorship. Remember the AT&T Pearl Jam concert, where the singers were censored? The band was singing a modified version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”: “George Bush, leave this world alone,” and “George Bush, find yourself another home.” The event was shown with a brief delay so the company could bleep out excessive profanity or nudity.
As Evan Greer, Campaign Director for Fight for the Future, put it: “Every member of Congress should take note: supporting the FCC’s plan to allow censorship, throttling, and price gouging may get you a few extra campaign donations from big telecom companies, but it will infuriate your constituents, and will come with a serious political cost.”
The Lobbying (So Far) by ISPs. Big $.
Of the millions of people who have voiced their concerns, the big companies have spent over $100 per comment in lobbying and campaigning, which pressured Ajit Pai into repealing the 2015 framework, according to statistical data gathered by MapLight, an analytics firm.
The FCC Chairman, Pai, is literally laughing his way to the bank. On December 7, 2017, at the annual Federal Communications Bar Association Dinner, Pai’s speech was a stand-up event.
“First, I want to thank all of you for coming tonight,” he began. “After all, we only have seven more days to use the Internet,” he said, to big laughs and applause in the audience, referring to the then upcoming December 14 vote where they repealed the framework. “You think I’m joking. It’s true. I read it on the Internet.” And Ended: “In collusion — I mean conclusion,” Pai said.
Ryan Singel, Wired magazine contributor, had this to say: “Enforcement will be left to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that’s never enforced open internet rules and has no ability to formulate its own. The FTC won’t even be able to protect customers against most Net Neutrality violations after the fact, and nor will it be able to protect customers against greedy broadband providers.”
Big Money Will Squash Their Smaller Competitors
Repealing Net Neutrality would lead to winners and losers, or, rather – big money vs small money — the winners being large companies (not just providers) such as Time Warner, and the losers being small businesses, startups, and minority groups that could have their websites blocked by the larger companies. The next Snapchat may never make it. There will be fewer choices, and therefore, monopolies are born. We already have few choices when it comes to providers and plans, and now, there will be even fewer.
Anyone with money could pay to have their site in the fast lane and pay to slow down their competitors’ sites. Of course, the ISPs would allow competitors to outbid the fees for more speed, but it’s doubtful a small business, startup, or minority group has the capital to do so.
Our economy becomes a game of people using money to silence each other on the internet.
Fees (for everyone)
Big content providers that use a lot of ISPs’ bandwidth could be charged fees, and you could be charged fees for accessing the content.
ISPs could slow streaming sites and other communications platforms to a crawl to make you buy their own plans. Houseparty, Skype, Netflix, and other competitors to ISPs could be throttled. And if you want those services at full speed, you’ll have to pay up. Plus, any larger platforms, like these services or YouTube and social media, may be charged a fee as well for being a large “content provider” because those sites use a lot of bandwidth.
Blame FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
You can “thank” President Trump’s appointed FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai. He entered the duty with the goal to repeal Obama’s 2015 bipartisan framework because Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need more money to invest in infrastructure. The FCC’s five-person board voted 3-2 on December 14, 2017. They voted at a time when Americans are “distracted” by the holidays, and, as most legislature think during this distracted time, try to do their “dirty work.”
He believes big business should be able to do whatever it wants without restriction. Sound familiar? He feels, as his ISPs do, that they are not earning enough money right now, and so by removing the rules put in place to protection customers from unfair prices, they could create fees to make more money and control the internet itself. If they own all the content, they win. But there’s plenty of other ways they could have decided to make money instead of hurting the people that pay their bills.
What you can do to save the internet?
You’re probably wondering, after being angered by reading all of this, what you can do to stop the repeal of the Net Neutrality framework.
Senator Ed Markey oc Massachusetts recently introduced a bill to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal Net Neutrality, and it already has the support of half of the Senate. But it needs one more vote to proceed.
Democrats are vowing they are going to force a vote on Net Neutrality later this year and will try to make it an issue for 2018. Their goal is that the issue will hopefully become a major motivating factor for gaining voters for the 2018 midterm elections if the issue is not resolved by November 6, and by taking on the issue they gain enough cosponsors to force a Senate vote. This means the internet will earn its much-needed clarified regulations and attention to address more legal issues than just how it should be handled as a service.
This Senate bill, the Congressional Review Act (CRA), would give senators 60 days to overturn the FCC’s vote ending Net Neutrality with a simple majority House and Senate vote. Senator Susan Collins o Maine became the first Republican member of Congress to pledge to vote to overturn the FCC’s decision, joining Democrats. This issue was bipartisan then, and it still is, now.
The CRA now has all 49 Democrats and two Independents. Senator Susan Collins is the only Republican to support the bill. The bill’s supporters are hoping for one more vote from Republicans to pass. Senators Collins and Angus King of Maine show that bipartisan support is building and Congress is listening.
Spread the Word and Join the Fight. Click on the petitions below – it’s so easy.
Repealing Net Neutrality will not lead to innovation, but only to an internet traffic jam because there will be more slow lanes. Innovation comes from small businesses, not ISPs.
If we want to keep the internet as we know it, we must not let the FCC rollback its 2015 Net Neutrality framework. We need to put more pressure on the FCC and Congress by contacting our legislators, signing online petitions, raising awareness, joining organizations such as Fight for the Future, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Battle for the Net, Change.org, and keeping our eyes peeled for the FCC’s vote results.
Petitions and More Information: If you can, sign every petition. We need a STRONG voice to stop this.
From Daily Kos: “Our nation and the world have experienced a great deal of growth across many fronts because of unencumbered access to the internet. The progress in the next decades will depend greatly on everyone’s access to an open internet.”