Protest doesn’t always happen on the streets.
Back in 2012, an internet blackout was organized. It wasn’t a small protest, it was a worldwide call to action.
At the time, Congress held two acts with incredibly destructive collateral damage to the open internet.
The first, SOPA, or the Stop Internet Piracy Act, gave the federal government, as well as corporations, the power to blacklist specific websites at their own discretion. The bill focused on the illegal distribution of copyrighted material, but did not account for careless and impulsive action by the people who held the power to block websites.
In a world where sharing an image or video can be done with a simple click, having the origin lost in a matter of seconds, meant social media and search engines would have been bleached inside and out by the government and internet service providers.
The second, the PIPA, or the Protect IP Act, gave similar powers to the government and private corporations. In 2012, both of these acts were being pushed as the solution to a problem not entirely understood.
On January 18 of the same year, the internet went dark.
Hundreds of companies like Wikipedia and Google, censored sections of their websites to demonstrate a reality that could potentially come to be. It was the largest online protest in history.
Congressman such as Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, backed out of their support, and the internet let out a sigh of relief.
In June of last year in a case filed at the Washington, DC Circuit Court of Appeals, a ruling was set to protect Net Neutrality. AT&T disputed the Federal Communications Commission and their protection over Net Neutrality as detrimental to network infrastructure.
In May of this year, a federal appeals court chose not to review its decision to protect the open internet. There is still question if companies or lobbying groups will fight to take the case to the Supreme Court.
It is clear that internet service providers like AT&T were using this as a cover for more control.
The term “data throttle” is a concept which means to intentionally slow down certain connections to specific parts of the internet, creating prioritization to anyone who can pay the bill. The service providers are trying to control what you see and use on the internet.
Picture this, you plan on getting a gift for your anniversary, and decide to order flowers online. You remember there’s a place close by with a website, and decide to search for them. It’s clear the first options you see are ads for popular flower delivery companies, but decide to keep looking for that local shop you had in mind.
You keep looking, but can’t seem to find them. You remember the name of the shop and use it to enter the site directly into your browser. It works.
After two minutes of loading, the website finally opens. Everything you see is slow and unresponsive, and ultimately decide to order from one of those ads you saw earlier.
What you didn’t know, was that the small flower shop you wanted to order from did not pay your internet provider for the “premium” connection to clients, while the major companies did.
Your habits and traffic will be directed to the services and companies ISPs choose for you.
It could also allow your provider to sell access in the vein of cable TV. You would have to purchase extra “packages” of extra content if it is not included in your basic plan.
Websites who provide information to their users encourage them to buy their product in the form of a subscription, but ISPs could charge a fee for access to the website in its entirety.
These are a few examples, however, when this type of practice is held to press and free writing, it is an infringement on the first amendment and free speech.
Message boards, blogs, and entire online communities could be drowned and wiped off the face of the internet. This could allow censorship to be the status quo.
This type of control and manipulation will be the norm if Net Neutrality ends.
Title II, Section 202 of the Communications Act of 1934 states the following:
“It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.”
If Net Neutrality dies, this section will become meaningless. The act will be meaningless, and internet freedom will become obsolete.
More push and change is coming from legislators to kill Net Neutrality. The time for protest has come again.
On July 12, over one hundred and fifty popular websites including Amazon, Netflix, Twitter and Reddit will participate in a Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.
Websites you might use on a recurring basis might be affected on that day. Take notice of what they have to say.
They will urge you to write to your representatives, to your senators, to the FCC and Congress. Don’t take the way you see and use the internet for granted. If you value the internet and its chaotic nature like I do, then there is a difference we can make.
Read, learn, and fight for an open internet on July 12. Time is running out.