Regardless of the venue, the struggle to ensure freedom appears to be never ending. The ColorofChange’s recent communiqué just hipped the public to a major decision made last week that threatens access to the Internet as we’ve come to know it:
A federal appeals court just killed critically important government protections against discrimination online; the giant Internet service providers (ISPs) — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable — now have total control over what information we can access on the web.
It’s a nightmare scenario, and one the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long seen coming. A self-imposed, Bush-era rule restricting the agency’s ability to regulate broadband foreshadowed the court’s finding this week that ISPs no longer have to treat all web users equally — they can block websites [like CLUTCH], slow down services, and double- and triple-dip in charging extra fees to restore access.
Real Net Neutrality ensures ISPs and content companies can’t collude to turn the democratic Internet into corporate-controlled cable TV, full of restrictions, limits on consumer choice, and toll stations designed to maximize their profits at our expense.
In the wake of this week’s ruling, Net Neutrality is dead.
Imagine Comcast penalizing subscribers for accessing news sources not owned by its NBC subsidiary. Imagine AT&T shutting off access to T-Mobile’s customer service website. Verizon charging you — and the school you’re attending — extra for you to access classroom resources online. ISPs are now legally permitted, and more financially incentivized than ever before, to engage in precisely these types of predatory behaviors.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The court agreed the FCC has the power, bestowed by Congress, to regulate ISPs’ business practices — if only the agency can rethink its conflicting, overly restrictive internal rules.
The dedicated crew of CoC explains that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler supports a free and open Internet, but urges the public to transform his rhetoric into action. “It’s time to reclassify broadband companies as common carriers, affording the public the same anti-discrimination protections we all enjoy when making a phone call, using electricity, or taking public transportation.”
As difficult as it may be to wrap ones mind around this tyrannical move, the long-term impact of the federal appeals ruling is more than an inconvenience. It’s a direct threat to democracy and the struggle for equality as big business attempts to put a halt on our inherent propensity to achieve social and cultural progress – advancement that cannot be achieved without access to unfettered information.
Click this to help overturn last week’s ruling and reclassify broadband ASAP.