If you are like us (and the many), you have heard the news about the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal Net Neutrality under direction of the President. It is beyond disconcerting that we have to address and even discuss this attempt to repeal yet another piece of Obama-era regulations. The FCC’s decision will fundamentally alter the function of the internet as we have grown to love, utilize, depend upon and know it.
Some may be a little confused and ask, what the heck is Net Neutrality? You may have noticed a flurry of recent articles and discussions about Net Neutrality, due to the FCC revealing their plan to repeal the set regulations late November. Net neutrality is simply: a set of policies that require broadband Internet service providers (your ISP) to give all consumers equal access to all content on the web.
Why should you be concerned about the absence of net neutrality? Because without it, companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc. will have the total control and authority to divide the internet into fast lanes versus slow lanes, to intentionally block content and slow rivals’ streaming speed, and even charge websites and services simply to reach their intended audience. This means an increase of charges for the same streaming speeds you’ve grown accustomed to, or blockage from site and content if it is not included in what you already pay for. ISPs can begin to charge consumers directly to use different parts of the Internet. A single Google search could cost you two dollars. Logging onto Facebook? Another two dollars. Wanting to upload a post to Instagram…? You get the idea.
Using the internet as most do on a daily basis can significantly change due to the FCC’s decision to repeal these protections for net neutrality which have been in effect since 2005 in basic forms and revisited in 2015 by the FCC to designate that broadband providers are telecommunication companies, thereby subjecting them to the regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Unless you are a multi-millionaire who isn’t fazed by the idea of having to pay to use social media… you will likely see a change and an increase in your charges to use the very same websites most young adults (and even middle-aged or senior citizens) use on an hourly basis.
This very website – our small-scale publication – can and will be altered for the worse if the net neutrality repeal remains in effect – we will surely suffer from a decrease in unique visitors, being subjected to the “slow lanes” of the internet and therefore losing interest from those we work so hard to develop a relationship with as fans/followers. Without the financial ability to pay the fees that ISPs will be legally allowed to charge, we could fall victim to being unable to deliver our content and will be in constant competition of those who can. It will give an unfair advantage to those already at the top – big corporations who can afford that “priority fast lane.” If you own any sort of small business, any sort of platform even on social media… you should be concerned. It will be harder than ever to remain relevant and have an effective presence on social media, harder than it is in the overly-saturated realm already. Even if you ARE in a position where you’re not worried about the increase in prices to access the sites we’ve grown dependant on…how fun will Twitter or Instagram be if none of your friends can afford to continue to use them?
As explained by one of our photographers, Samantha Shaw, she wrote:
“I am a small business photographer, as it is I struggle to get new clients in the constant increasing pool of photographers and anyone with an iPhone that think they are professional photographers. Now I will no longer be able to maintain a social media presence due to the lack of funds. I already have to pay to keep my site up and running, in addition to the price for Internet access at all. I have will have to come to terms with the fact that I will no longer be a concert photographer, and I will likely give up portrait photography as well. I have worked hard and long to get where I am, and now the government is looking to take that all away from me and every other small business owner that thrives from having affordable, equal access to the internet.”
Imagine all of the products and services that simply will no longer be able to reach the surface – imagine everything amazing that has come from sites like Etsy or Pinterest. Had there been no net neutrality… Etsy may not even exist. This platform to give ANYONE the same fair and equal opportunity to own a business, to be successful… it would have been nonexistent.
This is what it can, and will, end up looking like. Separate “bundles” for whatever niche it is you usually would access on the internet without a second thought.
So what can we do now?
Despite the vote to repeal net neutrality, it takes nearly two months for these new rules, or lack of rules, to fully take effect. During this time, your voices, OUR voices matter the most! Democrats in Congress have the opportunity to attempt to overturn this repeal with legislation. Already, the two Democratic commissioners have written their protests of the movie which you can read about in full.
All hope is not lost! This decision is unpopular across the spectrum – as shown with all those who were encouraging everyone to speak up and be heard, to encourage the FCC to vote in favor of keeping net neutrality in place. Tech giants including Facebook, Google and Netflix have all spoken out against repeal, saying that it would allow broadband providers to play favorites and successfully manipulate Internet access.
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
Even technology analysts, such as Roger L. Kay, are speaking out against repeal. Kay spoke with the New York Times, explaining that consumers will “end up paying higher prices for essentially the same service.
You may be thinking, what can we do now? By simply visiting BATTLE FOR THE NET you can write to Congress and help the decision to overturn the FCC’s vote. By passing a “Resolution of Disapproval” we can AND WILL win! The Trump administration is doing everything it can imagine to eliminate dissent from their views. Do not let them succeed.
Please visit the above Battle for The Net website to get in touch and reach out, write to, or call Congress.