Losing the Internet as We Know It / No Ordinary Week for Net Neutrality


January 11, 2010
By Megan Tady

It feels like any other work day. You drove the same route to work. You ate the same breakfast. Around 11 a.m., you looked longingly out your window imaging yourself swinging in a hammock on a beach. Pretty routine.

But there’s something different about today — about the next four days, actually. Turns out, this is no ordinary week. The FCC has invited your feedback before they rule on Net Neutrality, but the window for commenting is closing on January 14.

You have until Thursday at midnight to tell the Federal Communications Commission how you feel about the Internet. The comments you file with them will help shape the future of the Internet for generations to come. Our responsibility to protect it is a mighty one.

Do you like the Internet as it is — open to everyone to create and find content? Do you like writing blogs, reading alternative media, posting videos, engaging with your communities, connecting with your friends and family? Do you want to see how the Internet keep developing applications and online experiences we’ve never imagined?

Then you have to tell the FCC. The agency is on the on the cusp of creating a final rule that, if done right, will protect Net Neutrality, the principle that safeguards the Internet from corporate control — and allows us to use it like we do.

The FCC is facing intense pressure from giant phone and cable companies that want to strip away our right to an open Internet. They have already flooded the FCC with comments calling for an end to Net Neutrality so that they can control the Internet and block our access to Web sites and information.

It’s time the FCC heard the voices of people like you who rely on the open Internet every day. …

Losing the Internet as We Know It

By Megan Tady
January 12, 2010

How much have you already used the Internet today?

We don’t think twice about how much we rely on the Internet. Imagine not being able to map directions on Google or check the weather online. A business that doesn’t have a Web site? Forgettable. Or rather, unsearchable. Remember when we didn’t have e-mail? Would you want to go back to those Dark Ages? Me neither.

The Internet is in the very fabric of how we communicate, learn, shop, conduct business, organize, innovate and engage. If we lost it, we’d be lost.

But did you know that we’re at risk of losing the Internet as we know it? Millions of Americans don’t know that a battle over the future of the Internet is being played out right now in Washington. How it ends will have deep repercussions for decades to come.

On one side are public interest and consumer groups, small businesses, Internet entrepreneurs, librarians, civil libertarians and civil rights groups who want to preserve the Internet as it is – the last remaining open communications platform where anyone with access and a computer can create and consume online content.

Right now a film student in Idaho can upload a video the same way a Hollywood movie studio can. A small upstart company can launch a brilliant idea that challenges the Fortune 500. An independent journalist can break a story without waiting for a newspaper to run or print it.

The principle of “Network Neutrality” is what makes this open communications possible. Net Neutrality is what allows us to go wherever we want online. Our relationship with the phone and cable companies stops when we pay for our Internet service. These companies can not block, control or interfere with what we search for or create online; nor can they prioritize some content over others -making the Hollywood video load faster than the kid’s video in Idaho.

On the other side are the Internet service providers, who want to dismantle Net Neutrality. Not only do they want to provide Internet service, but they want to be able to charge users to prioritize their content, effectively giving themselves the ability to choose which content on the Web loads fast, slow or not at all. The film student, the small entrepreneur, and the independent journalist will be lost in the ether, unable to compete with other, more established companies who can pay for a spot in the fast lane.

Gone is the level playing field. Gone is the multitude of voices on the Web. Gone is the Internet as we know it – unless we act now.

The Federal Communications Commission is crafting new Net Neutrality rules right now. The public has until Thursday at midnight to tell the FCC what we value about the Internet, and why we want the agency to create a strong Net Neutrality rule to protect it.

I’m filing my comments today, and I have to admit, it’s a little tough — not because I’m at a loss for words, but because there’s so much to say.

I’m filing because:

  • An open Internet gives me freedom of expression – freedom to write and share my views and the freedom to find alternative viewpoints;
  • I want other, smarter people to come up with the next Google, the next YouTube, the next Web application that I can’t even imagine;
  • I want to read about people and cultures that are different from me;
  • Mainstream media make me scream expletives, and I use the Internet to find alternative sources of news and information;
  • I want to e-mail my boyfriend a link to a picture that reminds me of our last vacation;
  • Net Neutrality means I don’t need anyone’s permission to create my own videos, and media execs aren’t determining what’s funny – we are;
  • I come up with potential million-dollar ideas all the time, and some day, I just might start my own business;
  • An open Internet feeds the activist in me, allowing me to engage with my community and organize for social change online;
  • It’s winter and I’d rather shop online, only I still want to support a local business;
  • I needed advice on how to prime and paint a room, and found a video online that taught me how to do it; and,
  • I don’t want to be censored.

This is why I’m filing. Why are you? If you care about how the Internet impacts and boosts your life, and if you care about how the Internet could evolve in years to come, it’s essential that you tell the FCC by Thursday.

This post was first published on The Huffington Post.

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