Today is the last day to file comments at the FCC in the net neutrality debate. Right now, before you even finish reading this, go to our tool at DearFCC.org and tell the Commission why the future of the open Internet matters to you.
This is a big deal. Net neutrality, a principle that means Internet providers must treat all data that travels over their networks equally, impacts every aspect of our freedoms online.
Unfortunately, the FCC has proposed a set of rules that will allow Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon to prioritize traffic to websites that pay their toll, putting the rest of us in the slow lane. We know that if ISPs are given the power to control how we use the web, they’ll definitely use it. They’ve done it before.
Here are a few ways ISPs have throttled or blocked content in the past; we stand firm in our opposition to this kind of behavior:
- Packet forgery: in 2007 Comcast was caught interfering with their customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing;
- Prohibitions on tethering: the FCC fined Verizon for charging consumers for using their phone as a mobile hotspot;
- In 2005 a Canadian ISP Telus , blocked access to a website that was used to plan actions by the Telecommunications Workers Union during a strike;
- "Fast lane" discrimination that allows wireless customers without data plans to access certain sites but not the whole Internet.
These practices pose a dire threat to the engine of innovation that has allowed hackers, entrepreneurs, and kids in their college dorm rooms to make the Internet that we know and love today. They threaten our ability to communicate with loved ones on platforms of our choosing and to organize for change.
If the FCC embraces rules that allow wealthy incumbent companies to reach users at faster speeds, the services we see in the future are likely to be the same companies that are popular today. But what about the service we don’t know about yet? Will they be able to gain a foothold? Many small companies have spoken out to suggest the answer is no.
In other words, when ISPs have the ability to pick Internet “winners,” we all lose. And the scary part is that the harms might not be easy to locate, because we won’t even know what we’re missing.
The Internet is one of the greatest things humanity has ever created, and no one can predict what we’ll be able to do with it next. Let’s make sure there will always be plenty of room for the unexpected, by making certain no one has to make a special deal with Internet gatekeepers to be able to meaningfully connect to users.
And let’s be clear: the Internet is how we communicate and how we work, learn new things, and find out where to go and how to get there. It keeps us connected to those we love and informed of political events that affect our everyday lives. We can’t afford to allow Internet providers to control our access to parts of the Net.
Join us in making sure the FCC hears us loud and clear: we won’t stand for any rules that threaten the future of our open Internet. Visit DearFCC.org right now to make your voice heard.