It’s July 12, 2017, which means it’s the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. It doesn’t really have a ring to it, but it certainly gets right to the point.
In the United States, internet users are on the cusp of another landmark decision made by the Federal Communications Commission, which has seen a major change recently (due to the presidential election). There’s a new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, and one of his hallmark bullet points for getting that position was net neutrality. He’s been against it right out of the gate, has lobbed his reasonings for not wanting it to exist, and, now, as the head of the FCC, he seems hellbent on making that a reality.
A lot of different companies are on board with the idea of net neutrality, and many of those who fought for it before, back in 2015, and leading into 2016, are back at it again. Google, Twitter, and many others are raising concerns about the removal of Title II, and what it could mean for users across the United States. Even companies that have become giants in the time since we were first fighting for net neutrality, like Netflix, have been a bit wobbly on the topic, but have ultimately come around.
The state of the internet in the United States isn’t a good one. And while the FCC’s Pai has said time and time again that the internet wasn’t broken back in 2015, it wasn’t perfect, either. We saw wireless carriers (like Verizon) pushing preferential treatment for its own apps (Go90), or AT&T selling “sponsored data” for better access to customers. And Comcast made it possible to excuse some apps from data caps. The list of these types of situations is vast, but Title II and net neutrality leveled the playing field. Made an attempt at it.
The simple truth for the United States is that the broadband market isn’t competitive, with upwards of 89% of people only having two options — one of of which is typically worse than the other. And in rural areas it’s even worse, with just dial-up access available. The Wall Street Journal has an amazing piece on the subject, certainly worth your eyeballs’ time.
And the broadband market itself is dominated by only a handful of giant corporations. And that’s namely what the removal of net neutrality aims for: Good news for ISPs and bad news for, well, everyone else. We’ve seen that successful companies, like the aforementioned Netflix, eventually stop caring about net neutrality when it doesn’t directly effect them. And that’s the gist here: Net neutrality helps the “little guy.” It’s designed to make sure that the playing field stays level.
The scary part here is that Ajit Pai, the head of the FCC, has, for all intents and purposes, already made up his mind. He’s gone on record as saying that this is a war that the FCC is prepared to wage, and that, ultimately, it’s a battle that he is going to win. He’s even said that it it’s the number of comments that the FCC receives on its website in favor of net neutrality, but the “quality” of the comments its website receives. One might not be too shocked to find out that corporate lawyers can write up more “quality” comments than a general user simply stopping by the website to voice their opinion on the matter.
Here we are again, fighting for something that should be obvious. But it appears it isn’t, and there’s no clear sign that it’s going to go in net neutrality’s favor, either. In fact, the signs appear to show it’s going to go in the complete opposite. So, in the U.S., we may see wireless carriers start blocking some apps from being installed on phones (again), or see some apps simply work better when accessing online content than others (again). And so many other situations that were removed from the table with the rollout of Title II.
So today’s the day to fight for net neutrality in the United States.
One final thing, this time about Apple. The company has routinely stayed quiet on the subject on a large scale, which might not be too surprising to some. However, Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, has recently stated that Apple is in favor of net neutrality, but at the same time suggested it isn’t a big enough issue to get involved with. I don’t agree with that sentiment in the slightest. Apple should be on the frontline with other companies, like Google and Twitter and others, making it clear to the FCC that the removal of Title II shouldn’t be an option.
So if you’re in the United States it’s time to fight. To do that, visit Battle for the Net. Fill out the form, and then, if you’ve got a couple minutes, make the call.