EDIT: In response to President Obama’s statement, reddit has called on the American people to lend their support and voice their opinions directly to the FCC.
Tell the FCC that now is the time for net neutrality and Title II reclassification!
“There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access. There are no toll roads on the information superhighway.” -President Obama
President Obama offered resounding support for net neutrality in his latest video message to the public.
If you’re a little fuzzy on the concept of net neutrality, take a look at our blog post outlining the topic.
The bipartisan internet
Whether or not you agree with the President’s political views, policies, or the decisions he’s made in office, it’s pretty easy to get behind him in the case of net neutrality.
Net neutrality isn’t an issue reserved for democrats or republicans. At its core, it’s about some of the things that Americans value most: freedom, independence, and equality. Seriously, though—that’s not to be overly dramatic or cheesy.
Net neutrality is about all information being transmitted free of impedance, independent of what ISP it’s transmitted through, and equally no matter who is transmitting or receiving it, be it a giant corporation or a small business owner.
President Obama backs common carrier classification
President Obama made it clear that he is doing more than offering his support for net neutrality, he’s backing a plan. Specifically, the plan to classify broadband ISPs as Title II “common carriers,” much like the electric or water companies.
The idea behind this is that the internet has become more than just a luxury or a convenience, and will always be much more than a way to watch videos. It’s a public utility, and has far-reaching effects on nearly every aspect of life today, including healthcare, education, and public safety.
The case for regulation
This is where there is some division on the topic. Obviously, many are going to be against over-regulation of businesses, citing any number of things that could go wrong. These are valid concerns.
A number of people also cite that Title II’s common carrier classification was written (and re-written) too long ago, and has many archaic regulations originally intended for phone companies that do not apply to (or work with) broadband ISPs. While this is true, it has already been stated and has long been the plan to use the FCC’s “forbearance” power to do away with these irrelevant regulations.
So let’s be clear about the whole over-regulation argument. We’re not talking about regulating small businesses here. It’s nigh impossible for any new competitor to enter the broadband internet industry as it is. We’re talking about regulating multi-billion dollar national corporations who already have monopolies in their service areas.
We’re also not asking Comcast and all the others to hand over the keys. We’re simply telling them that they’re not allowed to profit from restricting access to those who want to ride with them. [Sorry for the weird car metaphor.]
Broadband ISP control of information
We don’t owe the ISPs anything, either. Broadband ISPs still profit from being part of the government-created backbone of the internet. The government created most of the national infrastructure for the internet, not to mention helped set up internet service providers as “natural monopolies,” allowing ISPs’ businesses to work in the first place. The internet is not something that should be controlled by ISPs for any reason.
ISPs don’t create (much of) the information on the internet. What they do is provide a means to access that information. There’s no reason for them to have a say in which information can be accessed and at what speeds. In fact, there’s nothing but a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t have that kind of power, especially if they compete with other businesses online.
Say, for example, if an ISP (like Comcast) also had its own digital video streaming service (which it does) and was forcing another popular digital video streaming service (like Netflix) to cough up millions of dollars or face throttled download speeds and reduction in video quality (which already happened).
The FCC’s response
As President Obama says in his video, the FCC is an independent organization. They have no obligation to follow or even consider anything the President recommends. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to the President’s statement, though, thanking him and welcoming his statement on the issue.
In the response, Wheeler says, “Like the President, I believe that the Internet must remain an open platform…” and goes on to say that he too opposes internet fast lanes and values the protection of the consumer over broadband ISPs.
Wheeler closes his response by stating that “the more deeply [the FCC] examined the issues around the various legal options, the more it has become plain that there is more work to do.” Wheeler says that there are a number of “substantive legal questions” that must first be answered before anything can move forward.
The most important part: you can help
Hopefully, with the FCC’s cooperation, we can uphold the principles of net neutrality. Countless websites across the internet, including big and small businesses, have already shown their support for net neutrality. Reddit.com has been a strong supporter and a place for people to rally in support of net neutrality.
If you want to add your voice to the millions of others, call the FCC and tell them that it’s time for net neutrality and Title II reclassification—the whole thing only takes a couple minutes.
Please help spread the word and keep talking about this issue! West County, along with countless other local startups, depends on the open internet to survive, compete, and thrive in today’s world.