Life of Pai

Last week, Trump-appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced his proposal to repeal net neutrality with the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO). Unfortunately, this “freedom” is anything but free.

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Credit: FCC

For years the Republican Party has attempted to end net neutrality, citing the GOP staples of the free market and deregulation.

Under the Obama administration, the FCC established rules in 2015 protecting net neutrality. The ruling prohibited internet carriers from favoring one site of content over another or blocking content. If you like the internet the way it operates today, you support net neutrality.

In 2014, Comcast intentionally degraded the streaming quality of Netflix to their subscribers. Comcast forced the entertainment streaming service to pay a fee to upgrade the streaming capability. It was a disservice to paying customers by a carrier to coax more money from a company. The 2015 rules prevent this from happening now.

If the FCC successfully rolls back the 2015 ruling, expect things to go south.

An internet provider like Verizon could block Google and force customers to use the Yahoo! search engine, which Verizon purchased in 2016. If your carrier doesn’t offer Google, you could be charged extra just to access it (which is legally done without net neutrality). The joys of deregulation!

Want to “like” that picture of your friend’s burrito at Chipotle? Looking to avoid the crowds on Black Friday and put your Amazon Prime subscription to good use? Too bad: your internet carrier blocked Facebook and Amazon… unless you get the super deluxe package.

The independent music scene will also be negatively affected if net neutrality were to end. Artists and businesses who depend on Facebook and Twitter to promote their work will see their audiences shrink.

One talking point Pai uses to push his agenda to obliterate net neutrality as if it were planet Vulcan in Abrams’ Star Trek, is the harm it has on “mom and pop internet service providers.”

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Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

All internet carriers have had to show the FCC they are following the rules of net neutrality. This cost fell to the carriers themselves… unless they had under 100,000 subscribers. Once the GOP took over earlier this year, they omitted carriers with less than 250,000 subscribers from the FCC reporting requirement. Those mom and pop carriers are fine; the American consumer won’t be.

Five members of the FCC will determine on December 14th if things remain as they are or if some of us will be paying a premium to update our Facebook profile next year.

What can we do?

Both Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel have previously supported net neutrality and have denounced Pai’s proposal.

We have just over two weeks to contact the three members below to encourage them to re-think their position and support net neutrality:

  • Michael O’Rielly (Voted against net neutrality in 2015, has yet to fully endorse RIFO) 
Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov
  • Brendan Carr (supports RIFO)
    Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov
  • 

Ajit Pai (hatched the RIFO)
    ajit.Pai@fcc.gov

Our nation was cyber-attacked by a hostile foreign power, and the strongest weapon the Russians had in their arsenal against the American people was misinformation. We are also less than a year from our country holding a mid-term election that could change the political make-up of Congress.

We need to protect and maintain our equal access to not just information, but communication.

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