Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai officially announced his intention to repeal existing net neutrality rules.
The move would open the floodgates for internet service providers to charge more money, block access to sites at their discretion, and “pick and choose” the content people can see online.
What exactly is net neutrality, again?
To use an analogy from this handy NYT video, online content is comprised of “little packages of data.” Before you receive these packages, they have to go through a “processing center,” or an ISP, like Verizon or Comcast.
Net neutrality is the idea that all “packages” (data) must be delivered at the same rate, with no intentional slowing or blocking of certain sites — and thanks to rules set in place in 2015, that’s the way the internet is governed now.
How will a repeal of net neutrality affect me?
As things currently stand, you, as a consumer, control what you see online. But if net neutrality were to be rescinded, it would put a lot more controlling power in the hands of ISPs (i.e. Verizon, Comcast).
What would that look like? Theoretically, telecom companies could favor web services they have partnerships with (i.e. Comcast could promote its affiliate, NBC, over ABC).
And without regulation, they’d be able to use a variety of tactics to do so: slowing down the data of handpicked sites, charging fees to access content, or altogether blocking certain domains.
What can I do?
Despite continued resistance by internet giants like Amazon and Google, Pai’s proposal will likely be approved on December 14th. The best and most effective thing you can do to stop this is to call the people running the big show.
If you enter your phone number here, you’ll be given a script and an automatic connection to your congressperson’s office. You can also text “Resist” to 504-09 to auto-draft a custom letter to your local representative in support of net neutrality.