What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality (open Internet) means an internet that enables and protects free speech. ISPs should provide us with open networks—and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks.
Just as your phone company should not decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP should not interfere with the content you view or post online.
- Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with.
- ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.
- Courts rejected two earlier FCC attempts to craft Net Neutrality rules and told the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that if it wanted to adopt such protections it needed to use the proper legal foundation: Title II.
- In February 2015, the FCC did just that, giving internet users the strongest possible Net Neutrality (open Internet) rules when it reclassified broadband providers as common carriers.
- Title II gives the FCC the authority it needs to ensure that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon cannot block, throttle or otherwise interfere with web traffic.
Title II preserves the internet’s level playing field, allowing people to share and access information of their choosing. These rules have ushered in a historic era of online innovation and investment — and have withstood two court challenges from industry.
But Chairman Pai wants to ditch Title II and return the FCC to a “light touch” Title I approach.
Translation: Pai wants to give control of the internet to the very companies that violated Net Neutrality for years before the FCC adopted its current rules in 2015. Title I would do nothing to protect internet users like you.
You may remember back in the day (approx. 1985-2010) when companies like AOL Online restricted your access to their content only. Most AOL users did not realize they were not on the open Internet. It did seem strange sometimes that their friends and neighbors were talking about websites and forums they could not access. They thought something was wrong with their computer. It came as a shock when they learned the truth, but not from AOL.
AOL responded by claiming they were protecting their customers, what was wrong with that. AOL provided advertisers with a captive market and made a fortune.
There were a few similar companies selling closed Internet systems during that period, but as soon as enough Internet Service Providers (ISPs) popped up selling access to the open Internet, most of these companies faded away. Why be herded into a corral when you could run with the wind. (Sorry about that pun but it is a good example of how I see it.)
Small Business Council:
Activist Group “Save the Internet:”
Fox News – includes a video of Chairman Pai discussing his platform:
Download the new Aji Pai FCC Fact Sheet (400 pages).
NY Times and Small Businesses:
NY Times Opinion that the Courts will strike this new rule down: