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.