This December 14 could mark the end of the internet as we know it.
On that day, the Federal Communications Commission has scheduled a vote that may replace the current “net neutrality” system with a proposal called “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”
Don’t let the name fool you. The internet has always operated under the idea of net neutrality, much like a public water pipe. Everyone has access to the same flow. So net neutrality puts small business owners and large corporations on the same playing field by offering the same internet opportunities to everyone.
But under the proposed change, internet service providers (ISPs) would control the flow. They might block websites, slow them down, give some sites an advantage over others, split the internet into “fast lanes” for companies that pay and “slow lanes” for the rest or force consumers to buy special “tiers” to access the sites and services they choose.
While some companies could pay ISPs to have their content load faster, startups and small businesses that can’t pay those fees won’t be able to compete. This will kill the open marketplace that has enabled millions of small businesses to exist and thrive.
Moreover, this power would not be limited to the business sector. ISPs could control access to political speech they don’t like and 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.
To date, 23 million letters have flooded the FCC, urging commissioners to reject the order to repeal net neutrality developed by chairman Ajit Pai. In defense of his proposal, Pai recently stated: “The argument I am making in this plan is the best way to address this risk is to have the FCC examine on a case by case basis any situations in which we believe there is any competitive conduct.”
While there has been speculation about the legitimacy of some comments posted on the FCC site, commissioner Mignon Clyburn recently called the public outcry against the proposal “loud and fierce,” stating that the chairman’s proposal “tramples over the rights” of states and local communities.
Still, the measure appears to have support along party lines in Congress as well as on the commission, with three of the FCC’s five commissioners leaning in favor of its passage. If it does pass, every internet user and small business in the U.S. will be affected, and the consequences will be dire.
Therefore, it is imperative for all who value the free flow of internet access to denounce the FCC’s plan and voice support of net neutrality protections by contacting Georgia’s U.S. senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue or the Savannah Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Council.
Contact Your Representative Regarding Net Neutrality:
Chamber Governmental Affairs Council: https://www.savannahchamber.com/about-the-chamber/councils/governmental-affairs
To file a comment with the FCC on this proceeding: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-108