You can still make a difference. You can make your voice heard on this issue by calling your representatives in Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to urge them to support Net Neutrality. They are not contacted as often as you might think which means your voice can have an oversized impact upon the issue. Contact them today and be a part of ensuring that the Internet remains a place of freedom and equality for all.
Earlier this week, the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality officially when into effect. What does this mean? It means that the rules that were put into place to prevent ISPs from abusing their power are gone. You might be wondering what power they actually have? I’ve already written about this before but in summary, most people only have a single option for internet service. That means that for them, there is no competition. Their ISP has them by the proverbial short hairs and there’s no other place most of us can go for Internet access. Net Neutrality at least prevented those ISPs from really abusing their monopoly. That’s now gone.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, you’re not going to see your Internet service suddenly slow to a crawl or block specific sites. It will be more of a steady decline. It’s like having terminal cancer. It won’t kill you tomorrow but it will eventually.
As I’ve written before, the FCC’s claim that rolling back Net Neutrality will result in more competition (which presumably will be better for consumers) is flawed because of the cost of the last mile. What that means, in summary, is that over the last 30 years various cable and telecom companies have bared the cost of laying all the cable/wire necessary to bring internet service to most of the homes and businesses in US cities. They did this because city governments were more than willing to trade the enormous cost of creating a citywide network for the provider having (in most cases) an effective monopoly on providing internet access.
This isn’t the first time a service or utility has evolved in this manner in the United States. The railroads, the telegraph and later telephone service were all networks that were developed in much the same way.
During the Obama administration, internet service providers (ISPs) were reclassified as Telecommunication Service Providers. This meant that they would be treated like phone companies, as common carriers with all the regulation that implies. Prior to this they were classified as Information Providers which clearly made no sense since ISPs provide the network, not the actual content. Most importantly, Net Neutrality prevents ISPs from providing paid fast lanes which would allow companies to pay ISPs to make traffic to their site faster than traffic to other sites.