You’ve heard it on the news, you’ve seen it on social media, and now you’re here. reading about it again. But what is net neutrality to begin with, and why is everyone talking about it?
Note: This is not a tech tutorial, however this is an issue I am extremely passionate about. If net neutrality is repealed, the internet will not be free anymore. And yes, that includes your favorite blog, The Millibit.
You don’t have to be a networking expert (although if you want to, see my post on networking) to understand that the internet is a beautiful thing. Right now, you can visit any website for free, and no one can stop you.
Now imagine if the internet wasn’t free. What if, just like your Television plan or texting plan, you had to pay for the internet? What if big providers like AT&T and Comcast were able to create “website packages” to charge you to use the dictionary? What if the future looked like this:
Note: This is NOT a real flyer—it is simply a model to prove a point. But this could very well soon turn into a reality.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. (Wikipedia)
We’ve had net neutrality for as long as the internet has existed. In fact are strong legal Net Neutrality rules in place. I won’t get into the legal mumbo-jumbo of it, but basically, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) voted for Net Neutrality again in 2015, however it’s in for a revote this month (December, 2017). Here is the letter from the Obama administration :
This post is not meant to be about politics, however. It’s about me, as a developer, standing up to save net neutrality by using my platform for good.
Why is this relevant now?
The FCC, the same people who the preceding note was referring to, are due to decide the future of Net Neutrality next Thursday, on December 14th. The new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, designated by president Donald Trump in January 2017, plans to repeal Net Neutrality. He says that Net Neutrality isn’t a problem. From arstechnica.com:
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren’t needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs.
Although this could be true, why give ISPs (Internet Service Providers, things like Comcast) the power to control the internet we love?
As a developer, I use the internet for hours every day to experiment with different coding libraries, ask programming questions online, market my apps, and use my blog to educate others. I can’t have this taken away from me.
What do we do about it?
We can not have the free net taken away from us. According to Mashable, the first step to protesting online freedom is to get educated. This blog post gave a very brief introduction, but use the following to learn more:
- A good overview of net neutrality from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- A roundup of resources and FAQs on net neutrality from the ACLU.
- An archived overview of the Obama FCC’s efforts to uphold strong net neutrality rules.
- The Trump FCC’s new proposal to roll back net neutrality regulations.
- The full text of the Communications Act of 1934. (Just kidding. It’s 300 pages.)
- Here is a website I used to back up my evidence in this article.
Now that you’re educated, take action. Sign this petition. Send a pre-written note to Congress here. Attend a protest near you here. Share this article on your social media. But most of all, tell your friends and family. Most people don’t even understand what Net Neutrality is—and word of mouth is the best way to spread knowledge.
There’s no need to spend money to get your voice heard, but here are a few sites you can use to donate towards Net neutrality:
With that, I urge you to share this article and spread the word. Because once our Net Neutrality is taken away, you may not see this article again.