Do you use the internet? Do enjoy the free and open space on the internet that we share? Guess what – you might not have it for long.
There’s a lot of history and political jargon in the current situation, but here’s how the internet is dying and why it should matter to you. Right now, if you’re reading this at home connected to your wifi, then you’re with a company providing you that internet service. You pay per month for the internet service and that’s all – you can visit any sites and use any apps that require the internet and it’s a done deal.
It’s all said and done that way because of network neutrality. Network neutrality, a term first coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the Internet the same. It means that these providers can’t discriminate or charge differently for any user no matter. Under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content. However, many ISPs endorse the elimination of net neutrality, seeing this as an opportunity to increase their pr
ofits. Not only does eliminating net neutrality enable this, it allows service providers to differentiate Internet traffic into a “fast lane” – for those companies who can afford to pay to have their content delivered at premium speeds – and a “slow lane” – for everyone else’s websites.
Under the Obama administration, the open and free internet was protected by net neutrality laws and backed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent government agency responsible for regulating the radio, television and phone industries. Now, under Trump and incumbent Chairman Ajit Pai, the free and open internet is under threat, with Trump’s opposition of it – citing it as a way to restrict companies – and with the FCC under a Republican majority currently debating legislation to define limits for internet service providers.
The reason it matters so much now is more so because of what’s happened before.
Net neutrality has always been an issue but has come to the forefront of activism when in 2014 the federal court struck down the FCC’s 2010 open Internet order. This action again the order, which moved towards a more net neutrality concept and would have helped establish American rights to open Internet free from big corporations capitalizing on it, sparked activists to push for keeping the net neutral.
The movement, popularized by the ‘Save the Internet’ movement in 2014, culminated to September 10, 2014 – “Internet Slowdown Day” – when hundreds of organizations and companies staged a blackout to show what would happen without net neutrality. Online companies such as Netflix, Kickstarter, Etsy, and Tumblr displayed a spinning icon representing a slow loading internet on websites. These actions led to the commission voting 3-2 to reclassify the Internet as a “Title II” communications service and impose rules that prohibit providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling speedier access to their subscribers. Today, the FCC, under a Republican majority, has put out for public comment to roll back “Title II.”
In an era where the world and society is facilitated by a free and open internet space, the idea of blocking it in any way possible is not only alarming but worrisome. We live in an era where everything – education, communication, and so much more – is done online. KMHS Student IJ Jones says, “The internet is a major factor in our daily lives. Most students in this generation have no idea what life is without it.” And it’s true. Most classes have online groups on sites such as Edmodo and many students are assigned papers and projects, which are often done through research online and typed up on Google Docs or something similar. The world is connected through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and even more through messaging apps like iMessage or WhatsApp and video calling like Skype or FaceTime. Even shopping has favored online use, with a record of $6.59 billion spent online overall this past Cyber Monday.
It’s very obvious that this generation and our current society is heavily influenced by the internet and should be something accessible for everyone, not just those who could afford ‘premium rates’. The FCC has confirmed that they will vote on December 14th to abolish the regulations that prevent ISPs from controlling what websites and online services are available to their customers. Now is time for us to take action and here’s how:
Email your congressman. If you can’t find your representative, check out this website to find out. If you’re not too sure about emailing, text Resist to 50409 – along with your message – and the resistbot will find out who represents you in Congress and deliver your message to them in under 2 minutes.
Use your social media.
Tweet the FCC and the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai about what you feel and why you think net neutrality should stay with the 140+ character count.
Spread information. Get this trending on Twitter and other social media. Check out the #NetNeutrality tags on Twitter and Tumblr. Post on your stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to bring attention to what’s going on. Share information to people and make sure to get the word out.
CALL. If you don’t know what to do when calling or who to call, visit this website – it’ll give you a script on what to say and it will give you more information that’s specific to the state you live in. Another resource to use is 5calls.org – open the website and click on Demand The FCC Maintain Net Neutrality and dial the number and read the scripted message.
Sign petitions. Petitions are a way to bring attention and discussion on a topic and promote change. There are tons of petitions out there to save the internet, here’s one on change.org and freepress.net.
TL;DR: The internet is completely free with net neutrality rules but that’s now being threatened by Trump’s new FCC Chairman, who plans to let big companies charge you more money to access specific websites – possibly in packages like in the above image. Now is the time to contact your congressmen and save the internet before December 14.
EDIT: The vote is now happening on Monday, December 11th. What to do now is to EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES and try to change their minds – they do have a say in it. The FCC is currently not accepting votes from bots or minors, however, EMAILING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES can impact the vote.