The fight for Net Neutrality is on...you should take action today
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The Internet's a free, cosy place, in part due to net neutrality laws present in most democratic countries. But that is in danger right now—in the US, at least—with the FCC looking to repeal these laws that make the Internet a neutral playground for all of us.
Who are the FCC?
The Federal Communications Commision is an American government agency that regulates practices and policies in the interstate communications sector. They're supposed to be the good guys. The commission is headed by Ajit V. Pai, the main champion of the Net Neutrality fiasco, who also happens to have worked for Verizon.
Speaking of Verizon...
Who benefits from having Net Neutrality laws repealed?
Definitely not you. Or us. Companies like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable are the ones who stand to benefit from these laws being cast down. ISPs, basically. The mega corporations would get the chance to make more money by charging separately for services you get as part of your regular plan right now. They would also be able to charge websites and businesses for preferential treatment. "Pay our fee or you get blocked."
Here's Verizon's stance on the issue.
How would this affect me?
Net Neutrality laws exist to make the Internet a level playing field. It prevents ISPs from having the option of demanding extra fees from users if they want to access specific content on the Internet. Or from throttling connection speeds on purpose during specific times or when handling particular tasks.
Imagine if your connection speed was throttled during peak periods, and you had to pay a fee to get past that. Or if you were asked to pay an extra $5 to access our reviews.
As nonsensical as that sounds, those are distinct possibilities if Net Neutrality no longer plays a part in regulating the Internet. Everything would change.
I'm American, how do I join the good fight?
I'm not American, why should I care?
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Factually, a few countries—New Zealand comes to mind—don't have Net Neutrality laws. ISPs are kept in check by a combination of the government and competition amongst themselves. Things aren't all bad. But that's just New Zealand.
Ask yourself this: How many times has my ISP tried to exploit me? By raising data prices without warning? By including veiled T&Cs in new offers that ensure I don't get value for my money? We're certain a few instances come to mind.
Now imagine if they had no laws to keep them in check. Imagine if you had to pay extra to access Netflix.
While Net Neutrality laws being repealed in the US don't have any immediate effects on non-Americans, how long would it take for ISPs in other countries to realize how much money their American counterparts make, pushing them to start similar campaigns? If there's anything one can trust, it's man's inherent greed.
I'm not American, how do I join the good fight?
It may not count for much but you can start by signing this petition.
Then go ahead and send messages to US senators using the links above. Let them know the world watches. Let them know we all want our Net Neutrality.