The debate over Net Neutrality can sound like a “first world problem” compared to life-or-death issues like DACA and healthcare.
Here’s are two reasons why it matters:
- Net Neutrality is the concept that everyone should have equal access to websites and other Internet services. The FCC, helmed by former Verizon executive Ajit Pai, wants to end Net Neutrality. This would enable Verizon and other ISPs to charge extra for some websites, or block them entirely. Voters getting information from a limited set of news sources is what gave us the Trump presidency. Without net neutrality, those voters might be literally unable to access any major news website other than Foxnews.com*. Put another way, ending net neutrality is the atom bomb in Trump’s war on the truth.
- There is another, more free-market and Austin-centric argument for preserving Net Neutrality: It encourages entrepreneurship. Net Neutrality allows tech companies to compete on a level playing field. For the last 25 years, US tech companies have thrived in an environment where small startups can reach millions of users. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—they all benefited from this environment. If you throttle that environment, companies like Verizon get to decide which websites you visit.
Not surprisingly, both Ted Cruz and John Cornyn oppose Net Neutrality. Also, not surprisingly, both senators are utterly beholden to telecom companies. From the San Antonio Current:
“Since 2012, Cornyn had racked up $160,000 in political contributions from top internet providers, and Cruz has taken in more than $115,000 — above and beyond what other senators have been handed. AT&T alone has given the pair a combined $107,000.”
All five Austin-area GOP reps also oppose Net Neutrality, with varying degrees of fervor. (Back in March, all five also voted to allow ISPs to sell your private data.)
On December 14, the FCC is scheduled to make a final decision on Net Neutrality. There are two ways for you to make your voices heard:
- Contact your MoCs. They may be entrenched on this issue, but it’s still our job to hold them accountable.
- Contact the FCC and let them know what you think of these changes.
To file written comments, go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-108
1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322)
Ajit Pai, Chairman
Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner
Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner
Brendan Carr, Commissioner
Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner
Net Neutrality is a safeguard against autocracy. If we lose it, our Democracy suffers.
*Technically, this could work the other way, with ISPs charging extra for Foxnews.com while giving away MSNBC.com for free. Either way would be wrong. And given how much media consolidation as favored the far right, it’s safe to say who would be more likely to benefit from the repeal of Net Neutrality.