The new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, has announced proposals that will “gut” net neutrality rules in the United States. This will consolidate the power of big businesses, stifle innovation, and pave the way towards a two-tiered internet where only the wealthy can afford unrestricted access to this game-changing technology.
Unsurprisingly, the likes of Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are rubbing their hands in glee. Indeed, hot on the back of news that they will be permitted to sell their customers’ web browsing history, 2017 sure is shaping up to be a bonanza year for big money monopolies. Yee ha! Let’s go drain that swamp!
In what could be seen as a concession to public interest, Pai has opened the FCC’s new proposals to public comment.
This is in many ways similar to what happened in 2014. Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, also an ex-telecoms industry lobbyist, showed little appetite for saving net neutrality after a court ruling invalidated existing rules.
After a massive grass-roots campaign by internet activists, the FCC opened its proposals up to public comment. After over four million comments were received, causing the FCC website to crash twice, Wheeler gave in.
The FCC moved to protect net neutrality by classifying the internet as a Title II Utility. This brought Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under the FCC’s control and allowed it to introduce clear and reasonably strict net neutrality rules.
Ajit Pai now wishes to reverse this move. The full draft of the FCC’s current proposal is here.
As the events of 2014 show, the FCC is sensitive to public opinion. What happens in the US will affect people everywhere. Right now, the views of US citizens could prevent the destruction of the internet as we know it.
US citizens can make their opinion known by leaving a comment on the FCC’s website.
- Visit the ironically named Restoring Internet Freedom proposal webpage on the FCC website.
- Click on + New Filing or + Express. Unless you wish to add an attachment such an image or document, just go for + Express.
- Fill in the form. If “Proceedings” is not auto-filled for you, then enter “17-108”.
I won’t tell you what to write, but try to express your views clearly. TechCrunch suggests referring to paragraph numbers from the draft proposal if you want to address specific issues raised by that document.
All information submitted, including names and addresses, will be publicly available via the web. This is a public consultation, after all!
I am unable to determine when the FCC will stop accepting submissions on this issue, but Pai is expected to introduce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will change the existing net neutrality rules on May 18. So please hurry!
Write to Your Representatives
Another thing you can do is to write to your Congressional representatives. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides an online tool for looking up your representatives and automatically sending them the following email in your name.
Conclusion – Act Now!
Past events have shown that the destruction of net neutrality is not a forgone conclusion. If enough people oppose Pai’s plan, he will likely back down. So if you are a US citizen, please stop what you are doing and register your support for a free and open internet before it is too late.
Update: The EFF has introduced a tool called Dear FCC. This designed to make it even easier to submit a comment on net neutrality to the FCC.