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How to stop the death of internet freedom

MEO%2C+a+mobile+service+provider+in+Portugal%2C++applies+surcharges+for+web+bundles.+%0AThis+could+occur+in+the+United+States+if+we+lose+Net+Neutrality.+
MEO, a mobile service provider in Portugal,  applies surcharges for web bundles. 
This could occur in the United States if we lose Net Neutrality.

MEO, a mobile service provider in Portugal, applies surcharges for web bundles. This could occur in the United States if we lose Net Neutrality.

MEO, a mobile service provider in Portugal, applies surcharges for web bundles. This could occur in the United States if we lose Net Neutrality.

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A great aspect of the internet is our freedom to it. We all pay monthly fees to Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and similar companies, and in return we are all given equal access to the internet.
However, there is currently a movement in the government to take away our internet freedom. If the Federal Communications Commission has its way, we may have to start paying ISPs to access things that had previously been free, like Wikipedia or Instagram.

We are guaranteed equality of access by Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, an act that was made with telegraphs and early telephones in mind, but also applies to the internet. To use a metaphor, let’s imagine the internet as a road. Title II makes it so ISP’s cannot create toll booths to charge people for accessing other parts of the road, and makes it so they cannot create toll roads that allow people with more money to get to their destination faster, while people with less money are left driving on gravel roads.

Title II makes it so all Americans, regardless of income, are guaranteed the same treatment by ISPs. This concept is commonly referred to as Net Neutrality.

This has been the way the internet has functioned for years. However, it now seems that the Federal Communications Committee, the very people whose job it is to enforce government policies on things like TV, radio, or the internet, now plan to overturn Net Neutrality. To go back to our road analogy, this is the equivalent of the government selling every road in America to a private company.

ISPs have been pushing very hard for this reversal of Title II, and they finally got their way with current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai, a former Verizon employee who specialized in government regulations, was appointed during Barack Obama’s tenure in office. Yet, the controversy came during Trump’s turn, as on Nov. 21, Pai announced a vote to overturn Net Neutrality. The current FCC vote does not look promising. Only two of the five FCC Chair members have come out as pro-Net Neutrality, while the other two and Pai are against it.

We understand how you might feel reading this. It’s probably how we felt when we first learned about it. This is a complex issue, and you might be thinking that it’s boring, and it won’t affect you.    We understand that feeling; however, it cannot be further from the truth. In a future where Net Neutrality gets overturned, it could take minutes for a YouTube video to load because your family doesn’t have “Verizon Prime” or “AT&T Platinum.” Worse, you could have to pay an extra subscription fee to access websites that were previously free. With no regulation, there’s nothing stopping ISPs from charging you to use Wikipedia or Gmail or any other site you enjoy free of charge.

Now these all might just sound like hypotheticals, but there’s evidence of this happening. The picture at the top of this page is of a pricing screen on the popular Portuguese ISP “MEO.” Here you can see that the company has split websites into bundles. Our Portuguese friends who enjoy Snapchat as much as we do can now look forward to an additional $7.10 charge. We don’t want this to happen in our country, and we bet you don’t either. So the question becomes what can we do to prevent this?

The first thing that we can do is stop this resolution before it even leaves the FCC. The FCC Board of Commissioners needs a majority vote to overturn Net Neutrality. There are already two confirmed no votes on the Board. If we can convince one of the three remaining members to switch his vote, then this whole nullification dies in the building it was born in.

On the somber possibility that the FCC does give the annulment a yes vote, it does not automatically mean the death of Net Neutrality. The proposal will almost certainly get challenged in multiple courts with lots of the FCC’s energy going into winning these cases.

If all courts were to rule this nullification constitutional, it would then go to Congress. Again, here is where we can make our voices heard. We urge you to reach out to your representatives to tell them how important Net Neutrality is to our nation.

You may still be unimpressed and utterly uninterested. You could be thinking that this isn’t of your concern, as your parents are footing your internet bill now anyways, but ten years from now, when you’re the one paying for “AT&T Platinum,” you might be forced to choose between paying your rent and keeping your four thousand day streaks.

Ways you can help:

You can reach the FCC members through their emails or twitters: Ajit Pai, @AjitPaiFCC, Ajit.Pai.fcc.gov; Brendan Carr, @BrendanCarrFCC, [email protected]; Michael O’Reilly, @mikeofcc, Mike.O’[email protected]

Text “RESIST” to 50409. You’ll be guided through writing a letter to the senate, house, governor, or president.

Go to “battleforthenet.com”. They will connect you to your representatives where you can leave a voicemail telling them how important Net Neutrality is to you.

Sign the petition on Change.org.Leave a comment, or just your name. The more of us that show support for Net Neutrality, the harder it will be for the FCC to take it away. To sign the petition, visit goo.gl/9pivqE

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How to stop the death of internet freedom