The Fight for a Free and Open Internet
Each day we boot up, check our email, send out queries, research information, engage in online classes or discussions, pay our bills and perhaps check the headlines or the weather. As writers and editors we live by our computer—and perhaps a multi-use cell phone contraption. We need access to a wide array of sites and services. We need unbiased information--and we need it now!
The Internet is our constant companion and hardiest coworker, and we take it for granted. What if you booted up one day only to find that your provider was no longer allowing access to the sites you needed? What if all the information you found was one-sided. What if your website and links took so long to download that the editor decided you weren’t worth the hassle? What if you suddenly found that you only had access to the “Public Internet” or the “Family Tier” and that the “Business Tier” would cost extra. Unlike radio or television, the Internet has been our source for uncensored, equally available information—and there is a battle going on to maintain the status quo.
Net Neutrality is the ability to access anyone or any site regardless of race, creed, political party or service provider, uninterrupted and at an equal rate of speed.Big Business wants to control your access to the Internet. As we know, money talks, and certain providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast would like to regulate content, give the right-of-way to their own network—slowing down all other traffic crossing their path, and institute payment-tiers of service (much like the cable television channels).
Enter The FCC
In an attempt to maintain the integrity of the Internet as we know it, the FCC stepped in. On December 21st they passed rulings in an effort to insure that content not be blocked or censored and that it remains equally available to everyone. The rulings only covered line-wired access (not wireless services) and left an opening for tiering or “paid prioritization”.
Verizon Fires Back
Not only did Verizon file for reversal of the ruling, they also filed a joint proposal along with Google which suggests, among other things, that the FCC enforce the protection and nondiscriminatory requirements but have no rule making authority. In other words, you can watch us but can’t control us. Some customers already report being notified that Verizon will be throttling data speeds “to ensure high quality network performance for other users at times of peak demand”. At risk are people whose ISP shows a lot of usage. That kid playing on the iPhone might be more important than your business access; how do you feel about having you Internet speed cut in half after 2pm?
What Can You Do?
You can write to your representative, join the discussion at OpenInternet[dot]gov, or speak with your pocket-book.
You work hard for your money and you owe it to yourself to make wise choices with it. When we purchase services we do more than satisfy a need, we become partners with the company we have chosen. Do a little research on where your provider stands, both for your hard-wired system and your wireless provider. If you decide they are not acting in your best interest consider switching.
By Robyn Chausse
(photo by R. Chausse)
How do you feel about Net Neutrality? Should the FCC be involved? Do you support tiered service plans? How do you feel about provider censorship? Is your provider throttling your service? Let's Discuss.