We Need an Open Internet

  • Published in Web

We thought net neutrality was safe when it was on the chopping block in 2014, where such a negative outcry convinced then-chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, to flip his vote and save the day.

But it’s back — a major decision is being made by the FCC on December 14th. A repeal of the net neutrality policy would favor big companies over consumers, setting back small businesses and independent filmmakers alike. What’s worse is that, unfortunately, it’s likely to go through thanks to the power of the swing vote, unless we all come together to help make a difference.

Illustrator and animator Louis Wesolowsky released this great explainer video last week and it’s one of the clearest takes on the issue currently at hand.

We’re for net neutrality. It has helped FWD:labs, which began over 10 years ago, as it allows us to keep costs down, speeds fast, and innovations moving forward.

And it’s not just web services and platforms that will be negatively impacted by the impending decision. It also affects independent film, both for filmmakers to deliver and audiences to receive. Can you imagine paying a new fee just to access sites like Netflix, Hulu, or Vimeo? Or having to mess around with package deals or bundles like what cable companies have been doing for years, upselling us on more than what we want?

We each already pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or mobile data carrier for a certain non-preferential speed to the internet. (Even that sales pitch isn’t always true with things like speed limiting and throttling.) Now they could actually be allowed to intentionally slow down or lock out certain sites that don’t shell out additional fees, or require consumers to pay for what’s otherwise basic access we have now.

All in all, repealing neutrality will mean higher costs for less services. It will hinder growth and accessibility. It will introduce tiered, “fast lane” services. Comcast, trying a PR stunt to appear “pro” neutrality, has already been caught deleting their promise to not adopt that kind of model, which proves yet again you can’t trust them to do the right thing with zero oversight.

Having the Internet permanently reclassified broadband as a telecommunication service would protect consumers. We need regulation that is pro-consumer and pro-entrepreneur, not more ways to line the pockets of the big guys. The FCC should be benefitting and protecting consumers, not the opposite.

What can you do before it’s gone?

Even though they may not consider it *, and may even be deleting public comments, please file your own statement of support for net neutrality with the FCC via GoFCCYourself.com, a friendly redirect from late night host John Oliver to the right part of the FCC’s website.

Click the “+ Express” link on the right. Make sure you’re seeing the proceeding number 17-108, which represents “Restoring Internet Freedom.”

If you’re A-OK being on the record, use your full name; otherwise consider the first name plus last initial.

For the comment portion itself, consider something in your own words along these lines:

“I strongly support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs. Net Neutrality protects consumers’ rights to have an open Internet, where all traffic is treated equally.”

If you need a hand, you can also call their help line directly at 202-418-0193 or e-mail ECFSHelp@fcc.gov.

Need more perspective? Watch John Oliver’s take on “Net Neutrality II” from earlier this year:

* Ironically, the FCC’s own website claims that they deliberately “seek the public’s comment … (and) the Commission considers the comments received in developing final rules.” If they go against that and unilaterally make a decision that benefits their head honcho, they go against their core values.

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