If your Internet connection and streaming seem to have slowed down over the last year, it could be because some Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) have been accused of causing “internet brownouts” and “permanent congestion” for well over a year. Critics of ISP’s say corporations like Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon “refuse to augment capacity and are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers.”
The FCC has the chance to either make that better, or much, much worse. Current FCC motions threaten net neutrality and the future of internet freedom. To make matters worse, the level of misinformation regarding this issue is staggering.. The fact that mainstream news outlets are scantily covering this extremely important issue shows that internet activism needs to be taken a few steps further.
If you’ve been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with net neutrality, here’s a quick lowdown. Currently, internet access speeds are pretty much the same: regardless of what website you’re on or what video you’re watching. Web traffic is treated equally by ISP’s, and “interconnect” companies like Cogent and Level 3, which route and direct traffic between web users and ISPs. And that could drastically change.
The old “common carrier” communications law said that public networks like telephone service must be open to all comers at the same rate without discrimination. Internet service started out like this also, since most of the first internet users accessed the web with dial-up provided by common carriers. Issues arose with the advent of cable modems, because cable networks had never been common carriers. So when cable companies started offering Internet access, the FCC made a momentous decision: this access was not a “telecommunications service” but instead an “information service.” DSL was also placed in the same category, which removed the “common carrier” designation.
Despite this classification, the FCC has enforced net neutrality. The ISP’s have successfully challenged this in court many times. ISP’s position is boils down to if the FCC hasn’t classified us as “common carriers,” the FCC can’t regulate us as common carriers, and the courts have almost always ruled in that favor. The ISP’s recent court victory now has the FCC at a cross-roads. The FCC has three options: (1) enact another rule that attempts to enforce net neutrality without reclassifying ISP’s (2) maintain ISP’s current classification and loosen the regulations so that there is net “semi-neutrality;” or (3) reclassify ISP’s as common carriers so that net neutrality may be enforced. It’s hard to predict what the FCC will do next.
Liberal internet activists and liberty minded conservatives have finally found an issue they both agree on. The overwhelming response from the people is that the web should be free, open and equally accessible for everyone.
If internet freedom is important to you, speak out, share this article and spread internet freedom! Check back to our activism section here at UPRISER for future coverage of the net neutrality issue. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think![See more from the liberal Slate perspective here.](http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/05/network_neutrality_dinosaurs_like_time_warner_and_at_t_have_nothing_to_worry.html)