Everyone knows about net neutrality.
Wait, what? We do?
Of course not. Up until yesterday, barely anyone had heard of it. The media had no coverage of this vote leading up to it. But with the FCC’s decision less than 24 hours ago to dismantle its regulations on net neutrality, reality has just kicked in.
What exactly is net neutrality and why is it so important?
Net Neutrality is the ability to communicate openly and freely on the Internet. There are no rules or regulations that hinder a consumer’s usage. We log on, type in a web page, and boom; we’re brought to it.
In 2015, then-commissioner of the FCC Tom Wheeler instated the rules of net neutrality. Under Title II Order of the Communications Act of 1934, broadband was listed as a public utility. Under this law, the FCC adopted rules stating that Internet service providers could not block, throttle, or prioritize websites based on advertising dollars.
Just two years later, current FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai—a former lawyer for Verizon—laid out a proposal on the basis of trying to restore a “light-touch regulatory approach.”
“Under my proposal,” Pai said, “the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet.”
But what will killing net neutrality do in return?
It will give full power to the Internet Service Providers. They will have the ability to regulate which sites are seen more easily and with quicker download speeds.
In essence, they’ll run like today’s cable companies: You want basic channels? OK, that’s one price. You want Comedy Central and NFL Network? That’s an additional fee.
This is how websites could be run in the future.
Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast have already stated that they have no intentions of blocking or throttling their content. But how long will that stand? Many of these providers have partnerships with the entertainment industry—AT&T with Time Warner, Comcast with NBC. It’s only a matter of time before they start slowing down the speed of competing sites, especially when it comes to streaming.
With the FCC’s 3-2 vote today to erase the laws placed in 2015, this is an easy possibility. With the Internet being placed in the hands of the service providers, it can happen with the flip of a switch.
What happens now?
The bad news is that the FCC has passed the bill, meaning they back it. The good news is that the bill has a slim chance of making it through Congress. With yesterday’s decision, lobbyists and activists around the country are up in arms and will surely cause a scene. They’ll put pressure on Congress to overturn the FCC’s decision.
There’ll be a lot of kickback from this, and Congress will overturn it most likely. They will need to use a “resolution of disapproval” to reinstate the rules that were dissolved yesterday.
What can you do to help? Call your local lawmakers and urge them to use the “resolution of disapproval” to have this overturned. Let’s allow small businesses to have equal opportunity to have their message heard.
There are also petitions all over the Internet to ensure yesterday’s ruling is overturned:
Count on ZenChange to keep on top of how this legislation will impact small business if it passes, but don’t let it get that far!