Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chair of the Federal Communications Commission, wants to do away with net neutrality. This is a terrible idea.
Net neutrality is kind of tricky to explain, but here's an analogy: Right now, most Americans get their internet from one provider, like Comcast, Charter, Verizon, etc. Let's pretend these telecommunications companies built a grocery store. Big sites and applications like Facebook, Netflix, Google, and Twitter are shoppers in line. Right now, with net neutrality, the checkout line at the grocery store allows open access. They legally can't choose which lines move slower or faster. But if net neutrality goes away, the telecom companies will have the power to favor their own content. In other words, Comcast may let the Comcast streaming service use the express lane and force Netflix to get in line behind someone writing a check.
Our current net neutrality rules were approved two years ago, but Pai described the rules as "burdensome" and anti-innovation, and this week, he began the process of dismantling them, with a vote coming next month.
Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
Needless to say, people have strong opinions about this, and they should.
The FCC received millions of comments opposing the measure, but that's not enough to sway Pai ... yet. But in case he needs a few more thoughts on the matter, here are nine reasons to fight for net neutrality.
1. If net neutrality goes away, your internet service provider gains a lot of power.
2. They will have the power to charge you extra for certain types of internet use or block certain sites altogether.
3. This is already happening in other countries that don't have net neutrality. You have to pay for the type of internet you want to use, and it starts to add up really quickly.
4. So this means:
5. Not to mention, certain types of sites can be slowed down at the discretion of the internet service provider.
Politics your ISP doesn't agree with? Pornography your ISP doesn't agree with? Good luck getting that site to load.
6. Rolling back net neutrality could also hurt small businesses because if the internet essentially becomes pay-to-play, they won't be able to compete.
7. And as Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggests, it may hinder future innovation too, as a slower, parceled internet won't help anyone research or discover.
8. And this isn't a partisan issue. No one — left, right, center, or otherwise — should have the sites and resources they enjoy throttled or censored.
9. Because despite the name, this is not an issue you should remain neutral on. This is about access to a free internet.
But what can you do about this? A lot actually.
Then reach out to Jessica Rosenworcel. She's another FCC commissioner who's doing everything she can to preserve net neutrality. Let her know you support her efforts.
And when it's time to vote, vote for candidates who stand up for a free and open internet.
This is not about politics or partisanship.
It's about big telecom companies deciding what you have access to. Join the conversation and speak up for these vital protections.