Your guide to net neutrality, what’s working, what’s not and what you can do about it.
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Most Americans use the internet while reaping the benefits of net neutrality without even knowing it. Net neutrality is an Obama-era set of regulations that keeps internet service providers (ISP)— huge companies like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon— from blocking, censoring or raising prices for content online to the highest bidder. For the average internet user, this would impact your ability to stream music or shop online without having your internet activity dramatically slowed down or cut entirely.
On December 7, people around the country are convening at Verizon stores nationwide to demand that the company stop its attack on net neutrality protections and for Congress to take action to stop the FCC from ending the internet as we know it. For years, Verizon and other companies have lobbied in Washington to kill net neutrality guidelines, spending millions of dollars to control internet use.
On their site, the organizers of the Verizon protests state, “People from across the political spectrum are outraged, so we’re planning to protest at Verizon retail stores across the country on December 7, one week before the vote and at the peak of the busy Holiday shopping season.”
This issue came to a head earlier this year after President Trump’s new chief of the Federal Communications Commission and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, attempted to revoke net neutrality. Recently, Pai drafted a proposal entitled “Restoring Internet Freedom,” which ironically would have the exact opposite effect that the name implies.
If the ISPs and Pai’s FCC get their way and net neutrality is killed, then huge telecom companies stand to get even richer while internet users pay the price. The stakes for net neutrality are even higher as two ISPs, Time Warner and AT&T, are poised to merge into a single company, which net neutrality advocates see as dangerous in the fight for securing a free internet.
What you can do:
Currently, Congress is deliberating on net neutrality and will vote on December 14 to either enforce the guidelines that protect online activity or destroy net neutrality as we know it. If protecting the internet is important to you, then join other angry internet users in the protests against Verizon on December 7. Find out where an event is happening near you, or host an event of your own. Either way make sure your voice is heard.
Also, internet advocacy group Fight for the Future is dedicated to helping people reach their representatives and telling them to defend net neutrality with their Battle for the Net campaign. On their site, you have the option to send Congress a ready-made letter, or to craft one of your own, that explains to elected officials why it's important that the internet remains as is. More than 5 million people have already sent emails to congress -- add your name to the movement today.
You can also call congress instead by using the widget below to directly get in touch with your elected official.
And then some:
According to a recent public opinion poll, most Americans — regardless of political affiliation — support protections for net neutrality. Also, several tech industry giants such as Netflix and Pinterest have spoken out in favor of keeping the internet accessible for all. Similarly, social justice advocates Color of Change, celebrities and elected officials have sounded on off on the implications of revoking the policy.