On December 14, 2017, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, now serving as Donald Trump’s appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cast the deciding vote in accord with his 2 male Republican colleagues to dismantle net neutrality and abolish the regulations that prevent internet service providers from blocking access to certain sites, throttling internet speeds, and otherwise controlling what websites and online services are available to their customers.
Internet users scored a significant victory in 2014 when the FCC reclassified the Internet as a “common carrier” (like a public utility) and installed protections for net neutrality and the “open Internet.” Net neutrality allows all users to have equal access to everything available on the Internet, and prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from essentially turning the internet into cable television — creating fast and slow speeds for sites of their choosing and charging consumers premium prices for upgraded access. Without net neutrality, small businesses, low-income individuals, and much of rural America would lose access to affordable, reasonably-fast internet service.
The four major ISPs — Comcast, Spectrum (merger of Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks), Verizon, and AT&T — have been lobbying against the 2014 net neutrality regulations, frustrated by the constraints placed on their ability to profit from those who need their services the most. They have specifically targeted the classification of ISPs as Title II services, a category that requires more strict federal oversight. In response to their lobbying efforts, the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has pledged to roll back these net neutrality protections with a softer Title I classification and will allow ISPs to instead make voluntary, unenforceable commitments that they will maintain the open Internet.
It’s time to fight to save the open Internet all over again.
It’s hardly a surprise that Pai decided to kill net neutrality in mid-December, announcing the FCC vote right before Thanksgiving weekend. This is the time of year when Washington sneaks through its ugliest, most loathsome proposals (ideally on a Friday around 4:30 p.m.) with the expectation of a busy and distracted public caught up in the frantic holiday hustle and bustle.
The US public across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose the repeal of net neutrality, with 83% in support of keeping the 2015 protections, according to a University of Maryland poll. The announcement of FCC plans to end treating the Internet as free and equal to all has created a political firestorm that is just beginning. There were record numbers of public comments — over 20 million — but an attempt was made to dilute them with about 8 million fake duplicate comments that regurgitated disingenuous industry talking points in support of the repeal, often posted using the stolen identities of people who had previously submitted comments against the repeal, that the FCC refused to remove, and regarding which New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pursuing a criminal investigation. When third parties scrubbed the comments of the fraudulent duplicates, an overwhelming 98 percent of the remaining genuine comments were in support of net neutrality. In the last month, the coalition site BattleForTheNet.com alone has generated 566,833 calls to Congress.
Here are actions you can take:
1. Contact FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and express your strong opposition to his actions.
Email this address:
Call this office:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a concerned customer from [LOCATION].
[IF FCC]: I’m calling to express my disapproval of the FCC voting to kill net neutrality and the strong Title II oversight of Internet Service Providers. Preserving an open internet is crucial for fair and equal access to the resources and information available on it.
[IF CONGRESS]: I’m calling to express my support for Net Neutrality and a fair and open Internet. I ask that [Senator’s or Rep’s Name] sponsor and support legislation to overturn the FCC’s vote against Net Neutrality and Title II oversight. It is time for Congress to take a stand in support of the American people to protect our free and open internet.
Thank you for your time and attention.
[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]
2. Contact Congress – Pai is hellbent on ending net neutrality because he knows that the profits for Verizon, Comcast and AT&T will be huge. The Internet will become like cable TV where the telecoms can charge you more to access certain content. But members of Congress can intervene to call on Pai to back down.
Optional e-mail script (prepared by the Electronic Frontier Foundation):
As your constituent, I’m writing to urge you to protect the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.
As you know, the FCC is currently considering Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to reverse net neutrality protections. Namely, the Chairman seeks to reverse the 2015 order that treats broadband Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.
That decision would give major telecommunications companies an unprecedented level of control over how we use the Internet. No agency would be able to protect the public from unfair practices like site blocking and throttling. Large cable companies claim to support the principles of net neutrality, but without the authority of Title II, those principles will be impossible to enforce.
Please oppose any attempt by Chairman Pai to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality protections. In addition, please oppose any effort in Congress to undermine the Open Internet Order.
A free and open Internet is essential for a free society. I urge you to defend existing net neutrality protections. Protect my rights, not ISP profits.
3. Join the National Day of Action – Go to a Verizon store! – On December 7, a week before the vote, the Team Internet Coalition will descend on Verizon Stores all across the country to demand that Congress stop Verizon’s puppet FCC from destroying the internet. Join one of the hundreds of planned on-site protests, or start your own.
4. Attend the #StopTheVote Action at the FCC – On December 13, at 4:00 pm, activists will gather for a protest and vigil at the FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC and stay there through the night into the morning of the 14th to stop the vote.
Meet at the FCC on Dec. 13 at 445 12th St., SW, Washington, DC at 10:00 a.m.
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