Statement on Net Neutrality

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to repeal net neutrality regulations put in place during the Obama administration. These rules guarantee open and equal access to the internet. If repealed, large corporations will succeed in their efforts to disadvantage consumers, which will ultimately stifle innovation and prohibit Americans from wielding the immense power of the internet.

Republicans like Jim Jordan are hoping that Americans won’t understand what repealing net neutrality means for everyday consumers. We will not be fooled.

Here are the facts.

In 2015, the FCC established a set of “net neutrality” rules, which classify high-speed internet as a public utility, much like electricity or the telephone. When you access content or websites from different sources on the internet, the information must first pass through large companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, known as Internet Service Providers (I.S.P.s), which then deliver the content to your smartphone, computer, or tablet. Net neutrality rules guarantee open and equal access to all content on the internet, preventing I.S.P.s from obtaining total control over internet access. This ensures that they don’t favor one source of content over another, slow speeds to certain websites, or block access to content altogether. Simply put, companies would be able to charge more for less without net neutrality.

Why is this so bad?

Currently, we pay a monthly fee to an internet service provider for high speed access to everything on the internet. Period. If I.S.P.s are given the power to become gatekeepers of the internet, with the ability to dictate what we see and how we see it, the internet will start to look a lot more like cable television. There will be dozens of packages containing different websites at different speeds, with the best access reserved only for those who can pay most for it.

As if taking more money from middle class consumers and giving it to some of America’s largest corporations wasn’t bad enough, a repeal of net neutrality would all but eliminate the equalizing power of the internet. These rules ensure that anyone who puts something on the internet - a young girl sharing her musical talents, a small business trying to attract new customers with their first website, or a congressional candidate running to make a difference in Washington - all have the same opportunity to make an impact. Open and uninhibited access to the internet spurs everything from political revolutions to technological innovation, making it crucial to the growth and betterment of American society.

It’s not just everyday internet users who are threatened by a repeal of net neutrality, either. Small businesses, bloggers, and other content providers who are unable to make deals with massive I.S.P.s will be relegated to lower tiers, forcing consumers to view these websites at slower speeds or pay even more to access them, again tilting the scales in favor of the wealthy and powerful.

Large corporations should not have infinite power to dictate how we communicate, express ourselves, or unwind after a long day at work. We owe it to ourselves, and each other, to push back against the repeal of net neutrality. Join me in the fight against big business and President Trump.

Together, we can make a stand for what is right: fair, free, and open internet access for all.

Janet GarrettComment