When you go online you have certain expectations. You expect to be connected to whatever website you want. You expect that your cable or phone company isn’t messing with the data and is connecting you to all websites, applications, and content you choose. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.

Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.

And only a few people know what this term actually means!

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content. It means an internet that enables and protects free speech.

The internet without Net Neutrality isn’t really the internet. Unlike the open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed. The consequences would be particularly devastating for those marginalized communities that the media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve. People of color, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the open internet to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight back against systemic discrimination. After a decade-long battle over the future of the internet, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) adopted strong Net Neutrality rules based on Title II of the Communications Act, giving internet users the strongest protections possible. Big phone and cable companies and their lobbyists filed suit almost as soon as the Net Neutrality rules were adopted. Free Press jumped in and helped argue the case defending the FCC — and on June 14, 2016, a federal appeals court upheld the open-internet protections in all respects. However, the ISPS are still trying to challenge these rules in court.

Facebook’s Free Basics violate net neutrality principles, it’s not even very helpful to those who use it. Free Basics, an app that provides free access to specific services in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, was already banned in India last year for violating net neutrality rules. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) ruled against discriminatory access to data services, fully backed net neutrality—and effectively killed Facebook’s Free Basics in one of the world’s largest internet markets.

The incumbent chairman of FCC, Ajit Varadaraj Pai wants to replace the agency’s strong rules framed during the Obama administration with “voluntary” conditions that no ISP would ever comply with. Pai unveiled his plan in a closed-door meeting with industry lobbyists in April 2017 and officially kicked off a proceeding on May 18, 2017, when the FCC voted along party lines to move this proposal forward. Since then the agency has been swamped by comments from internet users who want to keep the protections in place.

The Trump administration is doing everything in its power to clamp down on dissent. If we lose Net Neutrality, it will have succeeded.

Millions have already taken a stand to defend our rights to connect and communicate. Why don’t we do it now?.


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