The following is an opinion piece, along with a list of articles for further reading on the topic of net neutrality and the FCC’s upcoming vote on the future of net neutrality. On the right, you will find contact information for members of Congress if you wish to get involved. In reality, many, if not all of these articles are heavy on opinion, but based on fact (often open to the interpretation of the author). At Cook Brother’s Broadcasting and Old West Media, we believe it is the job of media to present facts and let the viewer or listener decide where they stand. You won’t find politically motivated articles on our websites (this is by design). This issue of net neutrality rules, however, is not politically motivated, it is about consumer protections, government oversight, and the rights to free speech – in many forms.
You may not agree with our take, or you may even side with the FCC, or even cable/internet providers on this matter, and that is fine.
Our goal is for the consumers of our product to be informed and aware, so that they may arrive at their own conclusions and take action if/when they see fit. Thank you.
On Dec. 14. the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on a proposal from its chairman to repeal existing net neutrality rules that require that internet service providers treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, or method of communication.
The current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, who used to be an attorney for Verizon, argues that the current net-neutrality rules that classify the ISPs as a utility (under Title II) and therefore, subjects them to unnecessary, onerous regulations. Pai’s proposal does look to remove those unnecessary burdens, while also reducing the amount of data companies are required to report.
However, classifying ISPs as Information Services (under Title I), as Pai is pressing, would specifically remove a ban that keeps internet providers from throttling, blocking and pushing paid prioritization. Pai’s plan attempt’s to address this, by adding a transparency requirment, that would force providers to disclose how they are managing their networks, and admit when they were throttling, blocking, etc., but it specifically removes penalties for doing so.
What’s left over is transparency in ISP’s reporting to the FCC or the FTC, sure, but it would offer no protection for the consumer against these practices. Essentially, ISPs would only be required to declare what they’re doing on their networks and explain why, but then be completely free to do what they want anyway, without the threat of being punished.
The arguments against net neutrality often state that the internet service providers could simply comply, reporting their actions responsibly, and doing very little in the way of throttling, blocking, etc., as they did before the Open Internet Act was established in 2015, and maybe they will.
But the threat of what could happen, with protections removed, could be very real, if we take into account the track record of how these same big-cable and internet companies have handled both cable pricing and mobile data plan pricing.
Tiered pricing structures that limit access, rates that keep climbing, data caps on usage, throttling for over use, prioritization of their own first-party content over other similar content from competitors. These practices have been the name of the game over the last several years. But, would these companies, who are making record profits and seeing financial success, apply the same approach the internet? Do we really want to assume, or ‘hope’ that these companies will comply with relaxed rules and act responsibly, considering their track record, and without rules to guide and shape their actions.
Perhaps internet providers will comply, and maybe they’ll play fair, and give us value for our money. Perhaps Chairman Pai’s proposal for transparency will be effective. But what price could we pay if things don’t play out this way. What could be at stake?
This issue goes much deeper, the more that you read, and effects many more facets of industry and access to information. This issue at worst, could likely effect our future economy, our future government and how we interact with it, and the free flow of information. There is a lot to consider, and there could potentially, be a lot at stake.
We only have a few days to voice our opinion on the topic of the net neutrality backed open internet, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, seems to have already made up his mind. The only entity that can stop this proposal from becoming the new policy, is Congress. And the great news is that we can still make sure that we are heard.
Want to read further:
What is net-neutrality, by definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality
What is the FCC proposing be done with existing net-neutrality rules:
What might happen if existing net-neutrality rules are repealed:
What do some of the Internet’s most influential brands and people think?
Other news: (Updated)
What else can I do?
Visit Battleforthenet.com for more information on protests taking place across the country at Verizon stores and Congressional Offices.