Hundreds of companies and websites, including VentureBeat, are coming together today to support net neutrality and educate users about its importance. Battle for the Net has organized a “Day of Action” to protect online privacy and free speech on the internet.
Net neutrality refers to the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) and governments should treat all data the same. They should not be allowed to block, throttle, or charge based on user, content, website, platform, application, equipment type, or communication mode.
Net neutrality is currently provided in the U.S. under the Title II provision of the Telecommunications Act, which prohibits companies from arbitrarily denying consumers service or discriminating in favor of some services/sites over others. All of this is expected to be scrapped under Trump’s new FCC chairman, who also happens to be a former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai.
To make your voice heard, whether you are an individual who browses the internet or someone who represents a tech giant, submit a comment to the FCC and Congress opposing the repeal of Title II. You can do that here (the EFF has an alternative here).
Battle for the Net’s template letter is as follows, but you can of course make modifications as you see fit:
The FCC’s Open Internet Rules (net neutrality rules) are extremely important to me. I urge you to protect them.
I don’t want ISPs to have the power to block websites, slow them down, give some sites an advantage over others, or split the Internet into “fast lanes” for companies that pay and “slow lanes” for the rest.
Now is not the time to let giant ISPs censor what we see and do online.
Censorship by ISPs is a serious problem. Comcast has throttled Netflix, AT&T blocked FaceTime, Time Warner Cable throttled the popular game League of Legends, and Verizon admitted it will introduce fast lanes for sites that pay — and slow lanes for everyone else — if the FCC lifts the rules. This hurts consumers and businesses large and small.
Courts have made clear that if the FCC ends Title II classification, the FCC must let ISPs offer “fast lanes” to websites for a fee.
Chairman Pai has made clear that he intends to do exactly this.
But if some companies can pay our ISPs to have their content load faster, startups and small businesses that can’t pay those fees won’t be able to compete. You will kill the open marketplace that has enabled millions of small businesses and created the 5 most valuable companies in America — just to further enrich a few much less valuable cable giants famous for sky-high prices and abysmal customer service.
Internet providers will be able to impose a private tax on every sector of the American economy.
Moreover, under Chairman Pai’s plan, ISPs will be able to make it more difficult to access political speech that they don’t like. They’ll be able to charge fees for website delivery that would make it harder for blogs, nonprofits, artists, and others who can’t pay up to have their voices heard.
I’m sending this to the FCC’s open proceeding, but I worry that Chairman Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has made his plans and will ignore me and millions of other Americans.
So I’m also sending this to my members of Congress. Please publicly support the FCC’s existing net neutrality rules based on Title II, and denounce Chairman Pai’s plans. Do whatever you can to dissuade him.
If you’re in the U.S., you can literally make your voice heard by going to your nearest Congressional office at 6:00 p.m. local time (make a physical sign or open up your mobile device to ProtestSign.org). You can learn more here.
If you’re on at least one social network, you can also show your support by changing your profile pictures and sending out appropriate messages. You can use the resources here.
Notable companies that are participating today include AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Amazon, Atlassian, Automattic, BitTorrent, Dropbox, DuckDuckGo, EFF, Etsy, Fark, Foursquare, GitHub, Imgur, Kickstarter, Medium, Mozilla, Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, Slashdot, Sonos, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stack Overflow, TunnelBear, Twitter, Urban Dictionary, Y Combinator, and Yelp, just to name a few.