A group of activists, consumer groups and writers is calling on supporters of net neutrality to attend the next meeting of the Federal Communications Commission on 26 September in Washington DC.
The net neutrality advocates plan to protest at Capitol Hill, where they would meet legislators to express their concerns about an FCC proposal to rewrite the rules governing our cyber world. The Guardian reports:
“The FCC has received 22 million comments on “Restoring Internet Freedom”, the regulator’s proposal to dismantle net neutrality rules put in place in 2015. Opponents argue the rule changes, proposed by the FCC’s Republican chairman Ajit Pai, will pave the way for a tiered Internet where Internet service providers (ISPs) will be free to pick and choose winners online by giving higher speeds to those they favor, or those willing or able to pay more.”
Pai’s proposed rules, argue the activists, will allow the Internet service providers to take sides by creating a tiered system of access. If passed, ISPs will be free to offer a high-speed lane to corporations able to pay more or to effectively slow a rival service. The Guardian adds:
“The FCC’s proposal asks whether the agency should eliminate the rule banning ISPs from creating fast lanes (or slow lanes) that could favour one service over another, which critics say could allow them to pick winners and losers online. Pai has said the regulations stifle corporate innovation and investment and are not necessary to guaranteeing an “open Internet”.
On one hand the lawmakers have yet to go through nearly 22 million comments on “Restoring Internet Freedom” before reviewing their proposals and set a vote this year, on the other the activists want to encourage Internet users to meet their lawmakers and tell them how a free and open Internet is vital to their lives and their livelihoods.
But Pai is adamant that tough net neutrality rules would provide cover to leaders in North Korea, Iran, and other states. He told Ars Technica in 2015:
“If in the United States we adopt regulations that assert more government control over how the Internet operates, it becomes a lot more difficult for us to go on the international stage and tell governments: ‘Look, we want you to keep your hands off the Internet’. Even if the ideas aren’t completely identical, you can appreciate the optical difficulty in trying to make that case.”