No, I’m not kidding. On Thursday, the FCC will most likely vote to repeal Net Neutrality, the rule that prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from slowing down (a.k.a. throttling) or blocking websites and streaming services. This means Comcast will be allowed to block your access to GMG for any reason they like. And they could charge GMG a fee in order to have the block removed. You and Joey and I will have no recourse.
But it gets worse. If you have a small business, Comcast could also block your website and force you to pay a premium to get the block removed. The technology exists for Comcast to block your Facebook page if they like and Facebook will have no recourse to prevent that.
As you might guess, there are those who favor repealing Net Neutrality, namely people at Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, who proposed the repeal, is the former Associate General Council for Verizon where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives. Perhaps now you’re getting the picture.
Ajit Pai has called Net Neutrality “a solution in search of a problem” which conveniently ignores the many times ISPs did exactly what we’re afraid of until the FCC came to our rescue. See examples here. Once Net Neutrality is repealed, the FCC will no longer be able to come to our rescue.
Imagine if the phone company decided to block calls to your mother in Iowa because whatever phone company she uses out there doesn’t want to pay a premium to allow calls from Massachusetts.
“That sort of thing has never happend,” you might say. And you’d be right. Because phone companies aren’t allowed to block calls or redirect them or add static or interfere with the sound or video quality — all things that ISPs will be allowed to do without the Net Neutrality rules. But wait! Do you have VOIP from Comcast? Or Verizon? Or AT&T? Better call your mom now and explain why you might not be able to call her after Thursday.
And while you’re at it, you might want to call your congressman Seth Moulton (202) 225-8020 and Senators Ed Markey 617-565-8519 and Elizabeth Warren (617) 565-3170. Ask them to pressure the FCC not to repeal Net Neutrality. And if that doesn’t work, perhaps congress can make Net Neutrality the law of the land.
This is serious folks. The time to act is now.