Read the news, skimmed the think pieces, and watched the John Oliver segment, but still not 100% clear on the net neutrality debate, or what you can do to help keep the Internet free? We’re here for you. United Domains is steadfast in supporting net neutrality for everyone, and we’ve written this post to break down the history of net neutrality, explain the current conflict, and show where you can lend a hand to help protect net neutrality.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality means that everything on the web (websites, devices, and apps) is treated the same way, and is all equally accessible to every consumer regardless of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) they use. Your ISP cannot block or impair your access to legal content, apps, or devices on the basis of those contents or apps, or the devices you use to access them.
These rules prevent your ISP from, for example, slowing your connection when you try to access one of their competitors’ websites, or outright restricting you from accessing websites they’d prefer you not see. Net neutrality also prevents your ISP from adopting a cable-TV-like business model that would require you to pay more to access certain websites, apps, or devices.
Wasn’t The Net Neutrality Thing Already Fixed A While Back?
Only temporarily. In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission implemented the Open Internet Order, the first formally instituted set of regulations to ensure a free, open, and neutral Internet. Verizon was apparently less than thrilled, and sued the FCC in 2014, arguing that the FCC did not have the authority regulate broadband providers under this new Open Internet Order.
The Order’s regulations could only apply to Common Carriers. However, since network providers like Verizon were classified as Information Services, which do not get the same federal oversight, Verizon argued they were expempt from the FCC’s oversight. The court agreed, and struck down the Open Internet Order. The court ruling went on to state that the FCC could only have the authority to impose the Open Internet Order on ISPs if they first reclassified ISPs as Common Carriers.
So in 2015, that’s exactly what the FCC did. ISPs are now classified as Common Carriers under Title II of the FCC Comunications Act of 1934. Under current net neutrality regulations, ISPs may not restrict, throttle, or prioritize online content in exchange for payment.
So, If The FCC Reclassified ISPs, Why Is Net Neutrality An Issue Now?
Flash forward to the present day. President Trump has signed S.J.Res.34, which overturns rules forbidding ISPs from selling or sharing their customers’ browser histories, and prevents the FCC from applying any net neutrality rules to practices that ISPs haven’t thought up yet.
But that’s not all. The Trump administration has also appointed Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman. Pai has vowed to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules and take a “weed whacker” to the Title II classification keeping those net neutrality regulations in place. And while both he and a number of ISPs have all professed support for the ideas behind net neutrality, and may only claim to object to the FCC’s authority to enforce them under Title II, none have proposed any concrete replacements for the current net neutrality regulations.
We Support Net Neutrality, And You Can Too
Politicians like US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) claim that “nobody’s got to use the Internet”. We disagree. The Internet is no longer a frivolous amenity. It is an increasingly vital part of life; one everybody should have the right to access without obstruction. Great things happen online specifically because net neutrality perseveres. Dismantling these regulations is antithetical to everything the Internet stands for, and threatens the future of the Internet we use and love. We won’t stand for it. Neither should you.
It only takes a few minutes to file a comment on the FCC’s current proposal for scrapping neutrality provisions. Just click “New Filing” on the left side of the page and share your thoughts.
Call your representative to express your support for net neutrality and Title II classification for ISPs. Just punch in your zip code at whoismyrepresentative.com to get contact details for your congressional representative.
After that, make noise in whatever way you’re able to. Shout your support for net neutrality from atop whatever shoutable platform is most convenient for you. Tell your neighbors, your barista, your rabbi, your babysitter. Spread the word about net neutrality on social media. Make a ruckus on your Twitch channel. Write a one-act play. Do whatever you need to do. Just don’t be silent.
Your voice can make a difference. A few minutes of effort could help determine the fate of the Internet itself. Please consider giving a moment of your time to help protect the Internet for everyone. You’ll be glad you did.