This Is Why Net Neutrality Matters to All Americans

 Photo credit: Trent Yarnell

Photo credit: Trent Yarnell

Can you live without the Internet?

I'd like you to pause and really think about this for a moment.

While you don’t need the Internet to survive, it is probably deeply ingrained in your daily life. For the vast majority of Americans, the Internet is not a luxury. It is a necessity.

Net neutrality matters because it protects our right to access to the Internet and all of the lawful content therein.

We all rely on the Internet in one way or another. We depend on the Internet to work and seek employment. We depend on the Internet to study. We depend on the internet to find out what is happening in the world and right in our own neighborhoods. We depend on the Internet for communication, organization, entertainment and so much more.

To put it simply: Americans need open access to the Internet to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the 21st century.  

The Internet is a vital part of our country’s infrastructure, just like our roads, power lines and sewer systems. Sure, you could technically live without access to all of these things, but as American taxpayers, we have long chosen to ensure fair access to public utilities. We have done so since the Progressive era, when railroads, electricity, water and transportation were the industries of the day that were concluded to be natural monopolies.

A natural monopoly is a distinct type of monopoly that may arise when there are extremely high fixed costs, such as exist when large-scale infrastructure is required.
— Wikipedia

But why, exactly, do we need net neutrality rules to protect our free and open access to the Internet? Because the future of the Internet is on the line.

The Future of the Internet is on the Line and You Can Help

When you go on the Internet, you have an expectation that your broadband or wireless provider will connect you to the content you choose without actually looking at or affecting the data you're requesting. This expectation is net neutrality.

Net neutrality is what can stop Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from interfering with service or blocking content for their own gain.

Without net neutrality, these companies are free to speed up or slow down the Internet and block content, apps and websites however they see fit.

 Image source: Alex Garland

Image source: Alex Garland

Why can't we just leave it up to the free market to keep these corporations in line? Because ISPs have been working for decades to keep the Internet slow, metered and profitable for themselves.

Did you know that we are a nation that lives on more than a hundred thousand miles of "dark fiber" that was installed on the backs of taxpayers? This fiber is capable of increasing our Internet speeds from 10 Mbps to 100,000+ Mbps almost overnight, but remains unused because Verizon, AT&T and others have a tightly held monopoly

In fact, many of us are less than fifty feet from a fiber optic connection, but only 25% of Americans have access. 

Net neutrality matters and is necessary to:

  • Prevent censorship: Without net neutrality, ISPs can block websites they disagree with—essentially opening the Internet to all kinds of censorship. Your ISP could choose not to show you articles that are critical of them or contrary to the policies it supports, or that compete with their media properties. With your ISP as a gatekeeper, freedom of information is at stake.
  • Stop throttling: Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing or speeding of service by an ISP. Under the principle of net neutrality, all Internet traffic must be treated equally, so your ISP cannot offer slow and fast lanes.  Without net neutrality, your ISP can favor Internet traffic in exchange for payment—either from you, the consumer, or from the website or app.
  • Foster innovation: Net neutrality is critical for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses who rely on the Internet to advertise their services and products. Without net neutrality, ISPs can exploit their gatekeeper position, like when AT&T tried to block iPhone access to Skype. Net neutrality is necessary for the Internet to remain a level playing field, fostering American innovation.

Net Neutrality: An American Value

Americans have long believed that entrusting the Internet to companies that care about profits above all else is contrary to American values.

Net neutrality regulations have been increasingly relied upon as the Internet has become more central to the lives of Americans. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped up in 2005 when, under the Bush administration,  the FCC banned blocking and throttling.  The FCC has been in court several times since 2010 to attempt to enforce it. In 2015 the FCC adopted an even stronger stance on net neutrality, basing the rules on Title II of the Communications Act.

When radical new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (former Verizon lawyer) repealed net neutrality in December 2017, he stripped Americans of protections that have been unfolding over the last fifteen years.

Should I Worry About Net Neutrality?

Yes. You should worry about net neutrality.

Title II gave the FCC the authority it needs to stop your ISP from blocking, throttling or otherwise interfering with your Internet use.  

When the  FCC returned broadband to a Title I classification, repealing net neutrality protections, it handed ownership of the Internet over to corporations. Corporations that have a documented history of blocking apps to damage their rivals. Corporations that have throttled traffic to raise prices. Corporations that have stifled innovation to insulate their monopolies. Corporations that have ignored your right to a free and open Internet.

This is why net neutrality matters and why we ask that you join our fight.

 
Theodore_Roosevelt_in_Rough_Rider_uniform_in_the_field.jpg

"we cannot afford to differ on the question of HONESTY if we expect our republic PERMANENTLY to endure. honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity.

Teddy Roosevelt
26th President of the United States of America

 

America's Internet believes in the spirit of President Teddy Roosevelt, our nation’s great Trust Buster. Roosevelt believed in regulation not for sake of bigger government, but as a tool to be used sparingly. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the public good is served in an industry that has become vital to the peace and prosperity of the nation. The Internet is a public utility and we must protect it.