A Disturbing Vision for the Future of the Internet

The era that Net Neutrality supporters have long feared is here — major companies have begun divvying up the internet. Last month, Google and Verizon announced a “policy framework” of how the rules for the internet could work in the future. The framework is a disturbing vision for the future. Wireless internet — such as services delivered over smart phones — would be completely unregulated; companies would be free to prioritize their own services — for everything from music to video to chat — over those of competitors.

Telecom providers could also do whatever they want with managed services, like Verizon’s FIOS, that are offered directly to the companies but use the same wires and bandwidth as the regular internet. Regulators under this new framework would be neutered, reduced to policing a narrow area of consumer complaints with no power over vast swaths of the web. If these new rules are adopted, the regular internet will quickly become a backwater. All the investment and capital funding would go toward building up the managed services and wireless networks where the companies would have free reign to use their market power to make the most money. 

All of this has enormous implications for all of us — not just as consumers but as citizens.  The Internet is quite simply the tool for exercising our First Amendment rights.  Not only does it give every one of us access to a worldwide audience, it also allow us to discover and expand our connections to other people, opens new vistas for freedom of the press and allows us to petition our government in new and exciting ways.

Individual bloggers can describe the effect of poverty and Hurricane Katrina.  Protesters can tweet the location of protests in IranWebsites dedicated to government accountability can widely disseminate their work.  These actions are all predicated on a free and open internet where no one is barred access to particular sites, texts aren’t blocked because they’re controversial and companies can’t secretly degrade the performance of some web services (like Comcast did to BitTorrent).

In fact, net neutrality has always been the default for the internet.  It wasn’t until 2005 that the courts and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stripped away this protection.  Since that time, public interest groups and companies on both sides have fought a pitched battle at the FCC, in the courts and in Congress over what the rules should be.  But we worry that a dangerous time is ahead for internet openness.  After a recent court decision questioning FCC authority over the internet, large companies like Google and Verizon seem to be signaling that they think the time is ripe to begin dividing up the internet into pieces (wireless, managed services and the “public” internet) so they can maximize profits. 

But this isn’t inevitable. The FCC is considering action this fall to regulate telecommunications providers so that they have to provide full, fair service to everyone with no discrimination or deals between companies.

Now’s the time for you to take action: Show your support for the FCC’s efforts to restore Net Neutrality.

Tell the FCC it’s up to YOU to regulate the Internet, not Google or Verizon!

photo credit: thanks to Sinistra Ecologia Libertà via flickr

By Christopher Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office


Jae T.
Jae A7 years ago

..ke it away from us.


Jae T.
Jae A7 years ago

First I would like to comment as to Lisa Zarafonetis post...
Not if you are a Tea Bagger it's not !

Next :-)...We have a no 'google ' rule in our home. Don't care what cool 'tools' and tool bars they have. I can get to what I want to go to ok without them..always have. Prefer 'ask.com' or one of the other smaller serach engines to do my searching on. That will not change in our house. As for Verizon...we no longer use a cell phone or a big companys land line. Use the Magic Jack for at home and WI with it when away. Not the kind of thing to carry around in a store obviuosly but we are doing as good as ever, since we stopped giving them our money and personal information. Should they win then the Magic Jack will probably be replaced by smoke signals I suppose,but until then...if we did need or want another cell phone it wouldn't be that of Verizon or AT&T who would get our business,that much I know. I do know that while I can I will enjoy the 'net' as we still have it today I will fight with all and by all means that I can to stop it from becoming a thing of 'the state' so ta say..which is Corporate as it is. Until I can not longer fight a change to silence our internet as it is today, I will then be forced to either that of smoke signals or anything new that might come along to replace the Internet for the people, if such does...not counting on that however. Just happy to have it for now and making it my spare time focus to use it regularly to fight those trying to ta

Thomas N.
Thomas N.7 years ago

The last thing we need is more corporations getting bigger. There have already been studies that Wireless internet may be causing adverse effects in small school children.

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis7 years ago

Is it still legal to do our own thinking? :( Shared on Facebook!!!

Carole H.
Carole Hagen7 years ago


Maarja L.
Maarja L7 years ago

Glad I don't live in the United States. Then again, if they can force their rules on Americans, they might do it in other places as well.

Linda G.
Linda G7 years ago

To all who hold Freedom of Speech dear, we must unite our voices to prevent corporate control of the internet. How private companies like Google and Verizon can decide who gets what part of the internet would destroy one of our greatest freedoms. I am boycotting both companies until I am assured that net neutrality will prevail.

Jill B.
Jill B7 years ago

Corporate greed is never a good thing! This must not happen. I, too, live outside the U.S. but that does not mean that I am not affected by the laws set by the F.C.C. We all need to support them in preventing this violation against democracy.

Shalvah L.
Past Member 7 years ago

So what's new? He who makes a million wants a billion ... He who gains power wants even more power... No end to human greed!

Lenae H.
Lenae H7 years ago

I used not to pay for television...