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How To Fight The FCC On Net Neutrality (Opinion)

The headline says, “The Witcher IV Leak: Tom’s Hardware Exclusive Review.” You click the link. This pops up:

“Your internet service provider has restricted this content from your viewing at your current level of access. To read, please upgrade your internet data plan to include Tom’s Hardware as part of your Preferred Browsing Package (Comcast’s Digital Premiere & Performance with +Social, +TechNews addons, Verizon’s Beyondunlimited Enhanced Plan w/ FreedomSurfer addon, AT&T’s DirectInternet Diamond Plan, or Time Warner’s Ultimate 300 w/ OmniAccess Web and Internet Gaming add-ons.)

You can make a one-time payment to your ISP for viewing this content up to 3 times in the next 24 hours here.”

Do we have your attention? Good. Now we need your voice.

The above is satire, for the moment. Net neutrality is no laughing matter, and the future of the internet is currently at stake. Do you like your cable company, and the way you pay for television? If you’d like to do that for the internet--treating your favorite websites the way premium channels are treated--and enjoy myriad and labyrinthine pricing structures, fees, and add-ons, then simply remain patient.

If, however, you chafe at lumbering bills with bloated channel offerings and absolutely nothing of value to watch at a maximum of possible monetary extraction from your person, and you want to protect the future of the internet as we know it, now is the time to step up.

We don’t often ask our community to get involved in matters political or civic, as we’re a tech site focused on hardware and related news and reviews. But in this specific case, we’re asking you to lend your voice to ours because we’re all under attack, and the entire internet will bear the consequences of whether we act right now, or not. The reversal of net neutrality by the FCC threatens to balkanize the internet, segment and divide websites into fast and slow lanes, throttle streaming and multiplayer gaming, and strangle social networks and all the services we take for granted right now.

One of those services is Tom’s Hardware. Presently, anyone who has internet access can read our reports and reviews and add their voice to our comments sections and forums, any time, and from anywhere. By visiting Tom’s Hardware, millions of people have improved their understanding of PC hardware, solved their computer problems, or just hung out with other techies with a shared enthusiasm for system building and gaming. We don’t want this to change. We know you don’t want this to change, either.

Unfortunately, based on the current state of affairs, change is a comin’.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (formerly of Verizon) is hoping to replace the rules on net neutrality with “voluntary” rules that, by definition, ISPs don’t have to comply with, and that open things up to throttling, fast/slow lanes, and speed restrictions.

Net neutrality is the system we have currently on the internet, and it goes like this: You pay your ISP for access to the internet and at agreed upon network speed, and you can go online and visit any site you choose. Without net neutrality, you pay your ISP and you can get online, but the ISP chooses which websites you can see and can control your access and speed through parceling and rationing. This is a version of the “Ransom Model,” requiring you to pay additional costs for previously accessible sites, services, and streaming. It’s the DLC-ification of the internet, and none of us get a Season Pass.

Demographically, you (our audience) consume a greater quantity of the internet-as-a-commodity than others by dint of your online gaming, downloading of software, and video streaming. Statistically, you stand to lose hard if you lose net neutrality.

When the FCC destroys net neutrality, will you be able to afford what amounts to protection money to the ISPs to stay at the same speed of access you have now? Will you be able to afford the inevitable add-ons to provide the same level of service you have now? We don’t know. But we do know that right now, in this moment in the timeline, we have a brief opportunity to shift the sequence of events towards a more positive outcome. The FCC votes to destroy Net Neutrality on December 14.

We as citizens have only so much recourse here, but what we can do, we must do. We can submit online comments to the FCC, call the FCC to voice our concerns, and call our representatives in Congress to both voice our concerns and ask for legislation to make net neutrality protections permanent.

Unfortunately, one of the tactics used by those advocating for the destruction of net neutrality has been to attempt to muddy the waters of public comment on the change by submitting 7 million fraudulent comments out of the 22 million total that have been submitted—even though the overwhelming lion’s share of legitimate comments are from citizens who are opposed to the desires of the ISP lobbies. Therefore, although you can submit a comment online in opposition to these changes, it may possibly be seen as invalid thanks to the chaff of fraudulent anti-net neutrality efforts.

Even so, it is the work of but a moment, so we all may as well do it. Go to www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express, and under Proceeding, enter 17-108 (the dystopian-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” order). Fill in the form very, very, very carefully, ensure you get an email confirmation, and submit.

Your voice will be louder, as it were, with a phone call. Call the FCC and leave a message letting the agency know that you want to keep net neutrality as it is. Dial 1-888-225-5322, and be polite, patient, and persistent. You want Option 1, Option 4, Option 2, Option 0. Enter a complaint on proceeding 17-108.

Here’s a sample script: “Hi, my name is ___, and I live in [city], [state]. I’m registering a complaint about the proposed repeal of net neutrality, because it will hurt American consumers, reduce internet access, and restrict the open flow of information. I strongly oppose the undoing of net neutrality, which is at the core of proceeding 17-108. Thank you.”

Then call your members of Congress. The FCC commission is appointed and makes these decisions, but Congress can pressure the agency to do the right thing, and it can also put forward legislation to make net neutrality law instead of just policy. Find your congresscritter at https://contactingcongress.org/, and call the local office closest to you.

Here’s another sample script: “Hi, my name is ____, I live in [city], [state], and I’m a constituent of [Congressperson’s name]. I’m calling to strongly encourage him/her to pressure the FCC to retain net neutrality and not move forward with proceeding 17-108. I encourage [Congressperson’s name] to sponsor or support legislation to make net neutrality the law of the land so internet users like me don’t have to do this every year. Thank you.”

A call is worth a hundred emails.
An email is worth a hundred social posts.
And a social post sharing this is worth a hundred views of this text.

Act now, while you can.

  • Colin_10
    This change would give the telecoms the same authority over your internet as they currently have over your TV packages. There is a reason I don't bother with a cable package, and I do however have Netflix/HBO/Hulu/Amazon. If this change happens the telecoms won't be able to resist adding microtransactions to our favorite sites. We can't rely on the good will of corporations since they are mostly there to provide wealth for shareholders, their boards legally have to vote in favor of increasing profits and if EA is any example, they simply cannot lay their hands off microtransactions and we all saw how that turned out.
    Reply
  • ausiophill
    http://thefederalist.com/2017/07/19/net-neutrality-nothing-corporate-power-grab/
    Reply
  • knightmike
    We're so <mod edit>. The corporations won.

    <Moderator Warning: You've been a member here long enough to know better than to use that language
    Reply
  • carcharocles_theory
    Getting a 404: page not found error. Hopefully this doesn't mean they're responding to criticism by shutting down communications.
    Reply
  • jpishgar
    That link should be https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express - will change it shortly. Thanks for the catch!
    -JP
    Reply
  • chugot9218
    With so much fake news going around I thought I should provide some context to TheFederalist (per Wikipedia, just as, if not more valid than TheFederalist *snark off*):

    The Federalist was co-founded by Ben Domenech and Sean Davis; senior editors include David Harsanyi and Mollie Hemingway.
    As of September 28, 2017, The Federalist had a "black crime" tag, which aggregated articles related to criminal activity by African-Americans. Dan McLaughlin of National Review, a former Federalist contributor, defended the "black crime" tag on the grounds that it was not very noticeable and that "over a couple of years the tag appeared on only five or six posts."
    In March 2006, Domenech was named as a blogger for The Washington Post, where he would write from the conservative point of view. But only three days after his appointment, on March 21, 2006, Domenech resigned his position, when evidence surfaced that he had earlier plagiarized work that had originally appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, the National Review, and other publications. The Post said it did not know about his plagiarism when the newspaper hired him. Jim Brady, the-then executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, said he would have fired Domenech had he not first offered to quit, because the allegations of plagiarism made it necessary to "sever the relationship."
    More recently, Domenech was involved in a journalism scandal that resulted in the removal of his work from The Washington Examiner and The Huffington Post when it was disclosed that Domenech received $36,000 from Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit and lobbyist, to write favorable opinion pieces about the government of Malaysia without disclosing the relationship.

    No wonder the right is so familiar with fake news, they are the main producers.
    Reply
  • chugot9218
    Also, why do these useless comments that provide no commentary other than to link to some obviously biased website continue to be featured comments.
    Reply
  • chris.ransdell
    I've been on the net for a LONG time (back when PPP was a big upgrade over SLIP etc!)... I feel like the Internet has done very well for itself (and for mankind) as it has been (almost entirely self regulated in terms of policy and governance).

    My understanding is that the current net neutrality policy was just implemented at the end of the Obama administration. Even if it was at the start of the Obama administration, that is over 20 years after the Internet was pervasive and full of large corporate players. If, over the course of 20 years, there haven't been very many successful attempts at implementing selective pay to play filtering or widespread discriminatory speed restrictions, why is it suddenly the end of the Internet if we don't have extensive net neutrality rules now? It feels like something we're supposed to be very worked up about because 'THEY', the talking heads of the tech world, have decided that the way the Internet has worked since the start (mostly self regulated) is suddenly in desperate need of a bunch of new government regulation.

    Honestly interested in why I seem to be the only tech person who doesn't see this as a clear and present danger because I view the lack of rules to be MORE in line with the Internet's origins and success.
    Reply
  • kiniku
    I don't understand how a government takeover of a service is a win for any industry or people.
    Reply
  • chugot9218
    Please explain how net neutrality as implemented by the Obama administration conflicts with the idea of a free and open internet, all you offered was hyperbole and innuendo. The "self-regulated" internet in the US is ranked 9th in average speed, must have been more of Obama wanting to lead from behind I am sure.
    Reply