Last Day For Net Neutrality (comments)

Today, July 15th, is the last day that the FCC is accepting comments on the new “Net Neutrality” rules.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this yet, have you not been listening to me?  Net neutrality is one of my big, passionate causes.  In short, it states that all types of data on the Internet should travel at the same speed.  Click here for a quick, easy-to-read explanation of the issue via webcomic.  Or watch John Oliver, if you’d prefer.

The FCC, currently headed by a former cable company lobbyist, is looking to change that.  They want to create a “fast lane” structure, that would allow ISPs to create tiered service levels, where certain companies and services could pay to ensure a faster connection, leaving small players in the proverbial dust.  Here’s the FCC’s official fact sheet on the ruling.  The Consumerist has a handy guide, as does the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

There’s an easy solution to this: classify broadband ISPs as “Title II common carriers,” like telephone companies already are.  Of course, the ISPs don’t want this to happen (except when they do).  They want to be able to charge twice for the same content: once to the provider, and once to their subscriber.

This is not cool.  With only a little bit of hyperbole, this may be the biggest threat to the Internet as we know it yet.  So please, take a moment out of your day to tell the FCC what you think about their plan.  The EFF has made a handy tool to help you make your comments.  Keep in mind that your comments will become part of the public record, so try to to be civil.  Here’s my letter:

Dear FCC,

I’m Joshua Natzke and I live in Lakewood, CO.
Net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data that travels over their networks equally, is important to me because without it ISPs could have too much power to determine my Internet experience by providing better access to some services but not others.
A pay-­to-play Internet worries me because new, innovative services that can’t afford expensive fees for better service will be less likely to succeed.
The Internet is unlike anything we as a society have had access to before. It allows people of every sort to create their own space and find things that matter to them. It significantly lowers the barrier of entry for creative endeavors in ways that are only now becoming apparent. To risk losing this unique environment to a tiered service organization would be a travesty.

I believe that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to give preferential “fast lane” treatment to certain kinds of data. Doing so would inevitably degrade the quality of services that cannot pay additional fees. After all, the only way to make a “fast lane” is to slow the other lanes down by comparison.

I also believe that high-speed ISPs should be classified as Title II common carriers, much like the telecom companies that provide land-line phone service. The fact that these ISPs are not already classified as common carriers is a fluke, an abuse of a loophole that should be closed as soon as possible.

I also feel that mobile broadband services should be classified the same as cable, DSL, and satellite ISPs, that is to say, as Title II common carriers. Internet access is Internet access, and these numerous loopholes should be closed.

Yes, ISPs will complain. But they are not the FCC’s customers: the public is. And the public does not want to see a tiered Internet that makes this wonderful sphere of innovation just the same as every other entertainment and communication venue. We have the opportunity, through TRUE net neutrality, to create a wonderful new world of opportunity for everyone. Please, don’t throw away this opportunity, letting innovation and change languish.

So yeah, it’s a big issue, one that I’m passionate about.  If you’d take even a few minutes out of your lunch break or evening to throw in your two cents, I’d really appreciate it.  Please comment.  I promise you can get back to cute cat videos and Netflix shortly after.  Thanks!