Here’s What the Internet Could Look Like Without Net Neutrality

Hello, and welcome to Care2! If you’re reading this, you must have the “deluxe” package from your internet service provider (ISP). You are close to your monthly data cap. If you would like to continue, please insert 25 cents.

Wait. Hold up. What’s going on here?

Fortunately, the above statement is only imaginary — a nightmare vision of a possible future without net neutrality. There’s still time to stop it from coming true by taking action to defend access to a fair and free internet.

What’s the deal with net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that all data is created equal: No matter what it is or who is providing it, it should be treated neutrally. Whether you’re loading the Washington Post, Facebook, or that cool local blog about cats you like, it’s handled exactly the same way.

Your provider can’t: Suppress or “throttle” data it doesn’t want you to access; charge more for certain kinds of data; or allow companies to pay for “priority.”

This is stipulated in rules that allow the FCC to treat the internet like a utility, subjecting it to tighter regulation. Now, the FCC wants to roll back those rules with a vote scheduled for this Thursday, December 14 (even though the public has overwhelmingly rejected the call to do so — and a lot of the pro-repeal comments received turned out to be fake). Find out if your name was attached to a fake comment here.

Okay, so what would change?

Maybe nothing! That’s what those who are pro-repeal say, with some arguing that the change could also facilitate the expansion of rural broadband and more investment in internet infrastructure.

Critics aren’t so convinced.

Here’s what they think might happen:

The creation of a multi-tiered internet, where people only see the content they can afford to pay for, and data that companies can afford to push to the top of the pile. Maybe that means Facebook is as easy to reach as ever, but your local newspaper is harder to load, or it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to upload photos to your favorite file sharing site. That differential pricing could mean your Netflix bill spikes — and so does the cost of your internet.

Throttling: Even when a site is top-tier, data caps may start to slow it down after a certain point. Maybe catch up on your Netflix marathons now, is what we’re telling you.

Free speech is of particular concern. The democratic nature of the internet makes it easy to share and exchange information, but what happens when money starts to become a factor, and when companies can stifle access to material they don’t want you to see?

What about that cool startup without industry clout or money: Could it get off the ground when established companies have a stranglehold on the market? Maybe the site that will replace Twitter is out there, but no one can access it.

How would this affect the rest of the world? The way U.S. ISPs charge shouldn’t have an impact on anyone else, but it will: When innovative companies, websites, and individuals are stifled here, they’re going to have trouble reaching a global audience, too. That could mean a net loss for everyone.

As for rural communities? Among those with broadband service, which isn’t a given in the rural U.S., there’s often one provider to choose from, and dialup options are pretty limited too. The lack of consumer choice would make it hard to exercise consumer freedom for those who wanted to switch to another provider — and there’s no evidence to suggest more ISPs would move in to rural communities to expand offerings.

Yikes! What can I do?

Fortunately, there are still actions you can take.

First, understand that the FCC is voting to repeal net neutrality rules on Thursday. You need to contact the organization to lodge your protest.

Here’s how to do that:

Toll-Free Voice:
1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322)

Toll-Free TTY:
1-888-TELL FCC (835-5322)

Toll-Free Fax:
1-866-418-0232

You can also email FCC chairman Ajit Pai directly: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov

Consider copying that to the rest of the Commission: Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov; Michael O’Rielly: Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov; Brendan Carr: Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov; and Jessica Rosenworcel: Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov

Not sure what to say? We’ve got you: Hi, my name is ____, I live in ____, and I would like to lodge my opposition to the proposed repeal of net neutrality rules. This move could infringe freedom of speech, stifle innovation, and make it easier for ISPs to price gouge their customers.

This is not a vote in Congress, although you can contact your representatives to ask them to consider creating a bill to protect net neutrality via legislative means. Your members of Congress, however, don’t play a role in this vote.

You can also urge your senators and representatives to tell Commission Ajit Pai and the rest of the FCC to stand down and stop trying to gut net neutrality, by signing this Care2 petition.

Tell a friend: You know all those obnoxious push notifications you get on social media when people change or update anything? Use it to your advantage: Get “married” to net neutrality on Facebook, announce a new job at “Net Neutrality” on LinkedIn, change your Twitter user handle, and so on, whether your audience is large or small. Add a comment encouraging people to contact the FCC, or to visit a site like BattlefortheNet.com, which is helping people contact members of Congress.

82 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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bob P
bob Petermann6 months ago

Free speech with big corporations in control, a bad idea. Thanks

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Nena C
Nena C6 months ago

having really hard time wrapping the brain around this move! gees...we got to stop it lots of ways to make opinions know we must do them all that we can, right!

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Karen H
Karen H7 months ago

Keep contacting your misrepresentatives. Tell them they must support Net Neutrality or you won't support them when they come up for re-election.

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Lucy S
Lucy S7 months ago

Petition signed. It's difficult to believe what happened yesterday.

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Amanda M
Amanda M7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie7 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie7 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie7 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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