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Net Neutrality News Round-Up: Brought To You By The Internet. We'll Miss You, Internet.

By Tori Preston | Politics | November 27, 2017 |

By Tori Preston | Politics | November 27, 2017 |

Happy Cyber Monday! Have you blown next month’s rent on a bunch of online sales, buying gifts for everyone on your shopping list (but mostly for yourself)? Me too, me too. Cool story. Oh, hey, speaking of Cyber Monday — more than 200 internet companies, including broadband bad boys like Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Airbnb, chose today to release a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission not to roll back the current net neutrality rules. Addressed to FCC Chairman/Fuckboi Ajit Pai, the letter notes that the “current rules provide the protections necessary to protect net neutrality and ensure the internet remains a free and open marketplace that encourages innovation and supports robust competition.”

Why does this matter, today of all days? Well, Cyber Monday earned $3.5 billion dollars in America last year, making it the largest online sales day in history (and today’s profits may blow that figure out of the water). More commerce is occurring online than ever before — thanks to the free and open internet that net neutrality guarantees us.

Because of the open internet, a web developer can launch a business out of their own apartment, an aspiring fashion designer in Wyoming can sell clothes in Los Angeles, or a caterer can find new customers in their town. Because of net neutrality, consumers and businesses have unfettered access to one another, increasing competition and consumer choice.

Disastrously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week released a draft order that would end this open commerce by repealing the current net neutrality rules and eliminating the protections that keep the internet free and open for America’s businesses and consumers.

Without these rules, internet service providers will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses, or the platforms they use to garner new customers, over others by putting the ones that can pay in fast lanes and slowing down or even blocking others. Businesses may have to pay a toll just to reach customers. This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground. An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.

But maybe we need to calm down and give the internet service providers the benefit of the doubt. Surely such large corporations wouldn’t really take advantage of the net neutrality rollback to make more money, would they? After all, Comcast (the largest home internet provider in the U.S.) has been saying for years that it would respect the principles of net neutrality even without being forced to — principles like not discriminating, blocking or throttling internet content, and not instituting paid prioritization by creating fast lanes for certain content providers.

Except, as Ars Technica points out, lately Comcast has dropped the promises about paid prioritization. Check out this article to see the complete breakdown on the shifting language of Comcast’s messaging.

Still, at least the FCC has given us a clear, simple, and not-at-all confusing platform to voice our opinion! They’re listening to us — whether we support the current net neutrality rules or support their desire to repeal them. Nothing can possibly go wrong with that. It’s not like some data scientist is going to analyze the comments submitted to the FCC between April and October and discover that over a million pro-repeal comments were likely faked, right?

Well, at least the New York State Attorney General hasn’t found evidence of identity theft in those comments and accused the FCC of refusing to aid in the investigation, right?

On December 14th the FCC will vote on whether to eliminate net neutrality as we know it — but it’s not too late to make your opinion heard. From Verizon store protests to petitions to calling or writing to your representatives, there are many ways to participate. And despite the 2-dimensional hellscape that is the FCC’s website, John Oliver’s handy “gofccyourself” shortcut is still active!

1. Click
This redirects you to the FCC’s misleadingly named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proceedings page.
2. Click “+Express”
3. Check that “Proceeding(s)” is pre-populated with 17-108. If not, type 17-108 and click enter
4. Under the “Name(s) of Filer(s)” field, add your name, then click enter
5. Add your address
6. Under “Brief Comments” — comment away!
Here’s a basic template:
“Dear FCC Chairman Ajit Pai,
I support the existing Net Neutrality rules, which classify internet service providers under the Title II provision of the Telecommunications Act. Please DO NOT roll back these regulations. Thanks!”
7. Click “Continue to review screen,” check your submission, click submit

And if all else fails, you can email Ajit Pai directly: [email protected]. Just leave his family out of it.