Net Neutrality Is Internet Equality for All – The Web as We Know It Is Under Attack, but It Is Not Too Late to Stop It

by KEITH CARLSON AND MITCHELL KRIEGMAN

The web as we know it is under attack, but it is not too late to stop it. Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is trying to destroy the fair and open access we all have to the internet by ending “net neutrality.”

Net neutrality is simply another way to say “internet equality.” It means simply that everyone — vendors like Amazon and Netflix, social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, as well as every consumer browsing the internet from work, home, or mobile phones — all have equal access to the internet. This is not about how fast the connections are for these vendors or individual consumers; we all know that you pay more for faster connections. The issue here is about the information as it flows from its source to the information consumer, and whether those giant routers and switches in the core of the internet treat each bit of information equally.

This means that on the internet, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and other telecommunications companies cannot favor one supplier — like Netflix, or Hulu — over your local community services, your doctor, or your personal web pages. It means that the big cable companies and conglomerates that provide the news can’t favor their news services over others.

When you consider how important news services are today in learning the truth, with many citizens getting all or most of their news and information over the web, this issue is significantly more serious than just whether you get to see Game of Thronesstreaming better than Stranger Things.

On Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether to maintain current rules regulating internet service providers (ISPs) as “telecommunications services” (like public utilities) or return them to weaker regulations as “information services.” Individual consumers should be opposed to relaxing the rules on ISPs because these changes will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers and greater influence for the large ISPs. In addition, new internet startups will face new hurdles, limiting innovation in the internet economy.

ISPs, the giant companies that provide the pipes for the internet to get to homes and businesses, are especially scrutinized now, since the net neutrality laws of 2015. The laws originally designed to regulate them in the early 1990s did not anticipate the huge, varied, and important web we know today. Since the internet is now a critical resource for news and information, these changes could have a wide-ranging impact on the social and political landscapes of the future.

Consumers have been protected from unfair internet practices in two ways: regulations on content and regulation on ISPs. Content is regulated according to standards for legality and decency. Those standards are not the issue here. The other protection is regulation of ISPs.

In 2014, we saw Comcast charge Netflix more for faster access to consumers. Such charges invariably end up being paid by consumers. All the big ISPs say now, “We’d never do that to you,” but the history remains and the protections would be gone. Consumers are right to be skeptical of powerful companies (or presidents) that say, “Trust us,” but then oppose regulations to bolster that trust.

In 2015, the FCC strengthened its oversight of ISPs to be more like utilities and phone companies with greater consumer protections, including privacy protections, rules prohibiting blocking or throttling of legal content, and rules prohibiting prioritization of content, like the Comcast deal with Netflix. These greater protections could be reversed on Thursday at the FCC meeting. ISPs (e.g., Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox) favor the reversal, while internet content providers (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Google) oppose it. Consumer groups (like the Consumers Union and the ACLU) are also vehemently opposed.

On a neutral playing field, all media and information are treated equally as they flow over the Internet. Payments for preferential access — allowable pre-2015 and maybe again after Thursday’s meeting — would go to ISPs, so it is understandable ISPs support a the rollback of these protections and content providers, who would be paying these fees, oppose it. The bottom line is that these new regulations will raise prices for consumers and hurt competition and innovation in the digital economy,

The Trump administration would like us to think this a done deal. It is not. Your voice can still be heard. We all have to put pressure on the ISPs, cable companies, and our government to stop this.

The internet belongs to all of us. There should be equal access for all to this critical resource, just like other utilities. If you want to stop this business takeover of the internet, contact these organizations and tell them to keep consumer protections in place.

Below are key people we all should all be contacting to support net neutrality.

Chairman Ajit Pai: 202-518-7399 / email: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov/ Twitter: @AjitPaiFCC

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: 301-657-9092 / email: mike.o’rielly@fcc.gov Twitter @mikeofcc

Commissioner Brendan Carr: 202-719-7305 / email: Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov/ Twitter: @BrendanCarrFCC

Keith Carlson and Mitchell Kriegman are members of Indivisible Santa Barbara.

4.17.17 – Santa Barbara Protests Zinke, Reagan Ranch Center, State Street, Santa Barbara

On Monday evening, April 17, peaceful protestors greeted Trump’s Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, who spoke in support of Executive Order 19, which would allow oil drilling in our national parks. He also referred to a coming Executive Order that will open offshore drilling as well. With only three day’s notice, protesters numbered over 350.  About a dozen counter protesters were present, but there was no violence or verbal disrespect between the groups. The counter protesters believe oil spills are the price to be paid for “energy independence.” However, the U.S. is all but 5% energy independent now; Trump’s stated goal is “energy dominance”. Oil sourced locally will be sold on the global market to profit oil billionaires.

4.15.17 – Tax Day Protest, Santa Barbara

See video here: https://vimeo.com/213702525/119ffbd7c4

April 15, 2017 – A crowd of approximately 400 local residents met at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court at the corner of State and Sola Streets on Saturday morning to protest President Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. The protestors held a short rally from 12:00-12:30 outside the Bankruptcy Court before marching along the State Street sidewalk to De La Guerra Plaza for a larger rally. Local residents, politicians, and non-profit organizers all spoke to the crowd holding clever and critical signs of Trump. Protesters heard speeches by local march organizer Sean Tucker, Maricela Morales (Executive Director of CAUSE – Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy), and City of Santa Barbara Councilmember Cathy Murillo.

Indivisible SB in Action

February 20, 2017 – An estimated 300 people attended Monday night’s open ISB meeting to review proposed organizational planning and recruit volunteers. We now have a local membership of over 2,000!

February 21, 2017 – Supporters of Planned Parenthood and Indivisible volunteers “slogged across the wet and slippery turf of the courthouse sunken gardens” Tuesday afternoon to voice our opposition to the Trump administration’s vow to cut funding for Planned Parenthood:

http://www.independent.com/news/2017/feb/22/santa-barbara-stands-planned-parenthood/

February 22, 2017 – Concerned citizens and Indivisible volunteers “jammed into a town hall meeting with hundreds of others” on Wednesday night to support Representative Salud Carbajal’s efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown and his plan to dismantle the ACA. 

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/politics-government/article134426684.html

 

1.28.17 – Large Crowd Attends Indivisible Santa Barbara’s First Public Meeting in Santa Barbara

On January 28, 2017  our local chapter of Indivisible held its first chapter meeting at the Santa Barbara Unitarian Society. As you know, Indivisible is a nationwide movement of over 4,500 chapters that are using localized political tactics to work against the passage of potentially harmful legislation proposed by the new administration. Continue reading “1.28.17 – Large Crowd Attends Indivisible Santa Barbara’s First Public Meeting in Santa Barbara”

1.24.17 – Indivisible Santa Barbara Joins #ResistTrumpTuesday Effort

On Tuesday Jan 24, 2017, seven members of Indivisible Santa Barbara went to Los Angeles to participate in the first #ResistTrumpTuesday event. IndivisibleMoveOn, and Working Families are working together at the national level to identify weekly actions, and educate progressives to use local advocacy to influence their local representatives. This week’s “call to action” was for local groups across America to visit their senators’ offices to demand that they reject Trump’s unqualified, corrupt Cabinet nominees. Continue reading “1.24.17 – Indivisible Santa Barbara Joins #ResistTrumpTuesday Effort”

1.21.17 – Women’s March in Santa Barbara & Los Angeles

The official website for the Women’s March in Los Angeles, taking place January 21, 2017, is here: https://womensmarchla.org/

The women’s march will gather at Pershing Square in downtown LA at 9:00 am and the walk will begin at 10:00 am sharp. March will go from Pershing Square to City Hall. To follow the event during the day or find rides/groups to go with try the twitter account or facebook event page.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/womensmarchla

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1211228062281167/

Take the train from Santa Barbara: take Amtrak to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Take the Metro Red Line 2 stops, to Pershing Square. Metro Schedule: https://www.metro.net/riding/maps/red-line/

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*A new WOMEN’S MARCH IN SANTA BARBARA has been organized for Jan 21 at noon in De La Guerra Plaza. Info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1233827506705808/