Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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The Net Neutrality Vote is Tomorrow

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The FCC’s controversial vote on Net Neutrality is tomorrow. Net Neutrality is the concept that all websites should be treated equally by the ISPs, such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, or Charter, with no website being blocked, throttled (slowed down), or made faster than others. The current implementation of Net Neutrality relies on Title II rules that make the Internet a utility instead of a curated service like cable TV. This makes the Internet like your electricity—it would be ridiculous if PSE made one pay more to use their electricity with Dyson vacuums instead of other branded vacuums.

Yet, the FCC, led by a former Verizon lawyer, wants to get rid of net neutrality. Last Thursday, people across America protested in support of net neutrality in front of Verizon stores, shouting slogans like “Face reality! We need net neutrality!”, “Say no to corporate control”, and “Ho ho, hey hey, network neutrality is here to stay”.

Protesters in front of a Verizon store. Photo by Cyrus Farivar, found on Ars Technica

Recently, Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman, joked at the Chairman’s Dinner about being a “puppet” installed by Verizon to gain greater control of the market. The pre-recorded skit included a Verizon executive describing how they wanted the FCC to be fully captured by industry. To do that, the executive said, they would train a “Verizon puppet” to be FCC chairman, and Ajit Pai agreed to be that person. The skit was intended to be a joke, but Pai’s acknowledgement that he has special interests is taking a joke a bit too far; the joke reflects the public’s worries about government lobbying groups.

A group of inventors and technologists, including World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, wrote a letter to the FCC saying that the net neutrality repeal “is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.” It described how the same internet pioneers had sent a joint comment to the FCC, and that the FCC just ignored it.

The joint comment explains:

“Saying that Internet users do not specify the points to which information is sent online [not classifying the internet as Title II, as mentioned above] is like saying that telephone users do not specify the phone they want their call sent to when they dial a phone number.”

Because of all this, there was an online protest yesterday, called “Break the Internet”. Websites like Reddit, Mozilla, and GitHub put up messages about net neutrality that asked you to contact Congress and ask them to keep net neutrality. If you want to help, click here to change your profile picture, add a message to your website, and more. This is the last day before the vote, so contact Congress today as well. You can help save the free and open internet.



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