This is bad. This is very bad. If you value online organizing (and in this moment, you SHOULD), start screaming to save Net Neutrality NOW. https://t.co/Y6GsUglLTS— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) January 23, 2017
Turnout for the Women's March will only have accelerated plans to revoke Net Neutrality. They don't want to let THAT happen again! #Resist— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) January 23, 2017
As you may recall, during the election I warned that one of Donald Trump's first orders of business, were he to be elected, would be to rescind Net Neutrality. Naturally, I was widely dismissed as a big ol' cuckoo hysteric, by Trump supporters (because Trump loves the internet and is the champion of the little guy) and by lefties (because Net Neutrality is settled and even Trump wouldn't be so brazen blah blah).
Yeah. He would. Because that's what authoritarians do. They quash dissent and erode access to factual information in any way they can.
So here we are: "Net Neutrality Foe Ajit Pai Officially Named FCC Chairman."
As expected, President Trump has elevated Ajit Pai from his FCC Commissioner to Chairman, clearly establishing that the new administration seeks to undo the telecommunications regulations of the previous White House.Like many members of the Trump administration, Pai is a fan of "alternative facts."
..."We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation," he recently said about the future direction of the FCC.
The primary target of that weed-whacking is likely to be the 2015 Open Internet Order (better known to the kids as "Net Neutrality"), which prohibits internet service providers from favoring, blocking, or slowing down traffic based on where it's coming from.
On the day in Feb. 2015 when the FCC voted to approve these rules, Pai spent a full 30 minutes railing against the regulation, repeatedly politicizing it by referring to Net Neutrality as "Obama's plan to regulate the internet," and claiming that new taxes and fees were coming, even though the rule does not allow for such charges.
Get ready for the conservative talking points about how Net Neutrality crushes business and innovation, despite the fact the precise opposite is true.
Rescinding Net Neutrality favors Internet service providers (ISPs), who are currently disallowed from "forging packets to tamper with certain kinds of traffic or slowing down or even outright blocking protocols or applications." If they are granted permission to discriminate against sites and services at will, it would not only create a scenario in which access to information is only for those who can afford it, but it would have a chilling effect on free speech.
As I have previously noted: "Net Neutrality is an access issue. Who has access to information, and what kinds of information. One of the most dangerous potential outcomes of subverting Net Neutrality is that media with the broadest potential audience—i.e. kyriarchy-upholding garbage, which makes money hand over fist—will be the most cheaply accessible, while specialized media—i.e. kyriarchy-challenging material, which struggles to turn a profit—will be the most expensive, since media producers invested in social justice don't tend to get rich from their work."
And as Shaker Ignatius Cheezburger noted in the comments of that piece: "The other concern being that if the ISP happens to endorse or support certain political or cultural views as a matter of corporate policy, that ISP can now selectively filter certain content for priority delivery that is in keeping with their views and other content that runs contrary to those views for lower priority delivery, or no delivery at all. For example, NARAL or Planned Parenthood suddenly finds its alerts and updates getting bounced from all of its members within the ClearChannel family. Not good. Not good at all."
In an era where online organizing is so crucial to fighting back (see: THIS POST), the idea of Net Neutrality being rescinded is absolutely chilling.
We need to start fighting back NOW.
To that end, you can call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 and register your support for Net Neutrality.
Script: "I'm calling FCC Chair Ajit Pai to urge him to stand with internet users and preserve Net Neutrality."
If you are in the U.S., you can also contact your senators and respresentative now, even if they are Republican, and let them know you want and expect them to support Net Neutrality. It's unclear, frankly, whether legislators will have much influence, but it can't hurt—and a well-placed call at the right time could mean tipping off a legislator who will try to fight by introducing legislation to preserve Net Neutrality.
(Calls are always better than emails, but emails are better than nothing. Best yet is a call, an email, and a tweet!)
If you need a sample script, here you go:
I'm calling to let [elected official] know that I am very concerned about the appointment of Ajit Pai as FCC Chair, because of his views on Net Neutrality. I want and expect [elected official] to support preserving Net Neutrality.And, most crucially, engage in awareness-raising. Get as many people as you can educated about this issue, encourage them to call the FCC, and let's start making some noise, so they cannot erode internet access in a vacuum of inattention.