Net neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—is a principle that EFF strongly supports.
Unfortunately, the FCC is considering a plan that would allow some Internet providers to provide better access to some websites that pay a fee to reach users faster. This kind of “pay-to-play” Internet stifles innovation. New websites that can’t afford expensive fees for better service will face new barriers to success, leaving users with ever fewer options and a less diverse Internet.
There are many ways ISPs may discriminate against how we access websites, and we stand firm in our opposition to this kind of behavior:
- In 2007, Comcast was caught interfering with their customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing.
- We’ve seen discriminatory traffic shaping that prioritizes some protocols over others, like when a Canadian ISP slowed down all encrypted file transfers for five years.
- The FCC fined Verizon in 2012 for charging consumers for using their phone as a mobile hotspot.
Individually and collectively, these practices pose a dire threat to the engine of innovation that has allowed hackers, startup companies, and kids in their college dorm rooms to make the Internet that we know and love today.
The FCC has a poor track record of getting net neutrality right. In January 2014, a federal court rejected the bulk of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet order. The rules that the court threw out, however, were deeply flawed.
Protecting net neutrality is a hard problem, with no easy solutions. It’s going to take a variety of actions and ongoing vigilance.
There is one thing we can all do right now, though: call a halt to the dangerous proposals the FCC has floated to far. That’s why we are asking folks to contact both the FCC and Congress and send a clear message: It’s our internet, we won’t let you damage it, and we won't let you help others damage it.