RIP Internet

RIP Internet
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On November 21st, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai officially announced his plans to kill Net Neutrality and with it, the Internet as we all know it. Mr. Pai’s intentions are nothing short of highway robbery of your Internet and privacy rights. Republican, Democrat and Independent voter alike, it makes no difference here. Everyone loses in the end.

If Pai follows through with his intentions, as he most certainly will, he will turn Internet service into the plotline of The Godfather. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Verizon and AT&T will become “Dons”, with the power to shakedown companies to ensure faster streaming and whack others by denying them access to their network, without explaining why. All the while, they’ll be able to squeeze consumers, jacking up prices for streaming and better speeds, knowing we have no recourse to strike back. And if you can’t afford such a price increase? Well then you can just enjoy poorer service, the value of a paycheck and one’s lot in life superseding their citizen rights.

The Internet as it stands today, today runs on the idea of “liberty and equal online access for all.” Ending Net Neutrality destroys that idea. It puts a middleman between you and surfing and streaming. It strikes at online privacy by giving media conglomerates the right to control what is available to do and see online. Your online freedom becomes limited rights, a skewed perspective of the world, based on what ISPs feed you. If conservatives or liberals head up an ISP, they can opt to only offer sites matching their perspective, literally redefining the platform in which most people get their news and content.

Without Net Neutrality, we threaten business innovation. If start-ups can no longer play on the same field as the big boys, then they may be cut off from selling their wares or sharing content with the public. And if they do, ISPs will still have the option to speed up their own preferred services while slowing competitor’s down. Let’s make Netflix faster and slow down Amazon Prime or Hulu. The idea is to drive you crazy enough that you’ll never watch the competition again. Gaining favor with ISPs will become an integral piece of the online marketplace puzzle. Everyone will have to answer to the boss.

In 2015, during Obama’s Net Neutrality fight, millions of people signed petitions in support of maintaining Net Neutrality’s principles. Telecommunications lobbyists have been fighting to retract it ever since. In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a challenge to the rules. Opinions have not changed since then. Americans are outraged. The FCC claims that’s an overstatement however, that the feedback it requested is running equal for and against. But is it?

Here’s where the story takes an even uglier turn. According to current New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the majority of comments against Net Neutrality came from spam accounts impersonating real people. In other words, the FCC is claiming popular support for its actions based on an audience that doesn’t exist. They’re stuffing the ballot boxes in support of their own agenda. Despite repeated attempts to get help from the FCC to explore the issue, Schneiderman has not received a response.

ISPs say we’re overreacting. They would never do anything to harm the American people. But if forced to choose between profit and user protection, which side do you see them agreeing with? You can’t put the fox in the consumer hen house and assume all will remain well. It won’t.

ISPs also claim they have no issues with Net Neutrality, only with the conditions set forth by President Obama in which he empowered the FCC with the ability to add regulations and price controls. In other words, they hated being the ones without power.

The rest of the world believes in Net Neutrality. They get it. There is no excuse out there that can prove to anyone that the loss of Net Neutrality will benefit users. We will not save any money. Nothing will go back into our pockets. We will not receive better service. If you put all the power of an institution in the hands of those running it without any system of checks and balance, no good will come.

This is not an issue raised by consumers and never has been one. We assumed, naively perhaps, that we would always get equal access to the World Wide Web and sites. People didn’t ask for its repeal. There weren’t any marches in Washington. There wasn’t a healthy debate in Congress. This was a mandated ruling and takedown.

And consider the precedent being set here. Our current president already hates the press or what he calls the fake media. Imagine if a president, any president, leaned on ISPs to filter out the voice of the opposition. That’s what Putin does. It’s a Communist move, a dictator’s action. What it’s not is American.

If ever there was a time to have your voice heard on a subject, it is now. The end of Net Neutrality will hurt all Americans not to mention our standing with the world. Call your congressman and sign those online petitions. Don’t let the government turn this into a political issue. It is not. It is a threat to the First and Fourth Amendment and our way of life in the digital world. The ones who will suffer the most are the ones who use it, not the ones providing the service. What happens next is hard to say other than in the end we will all be the worse off for it.

We the people must stand tall and strong for our inalienable right to Net Neutrality - Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, whatever your persuasion - we are all Americans and this is our right!

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