Nearly everyone today uses the internet to socialize, engage in political activism, watch movies, shop or keep up with the news, without fear of their internet provider or phone company interfering with their data or connection. From its inception, the founders, creators and subsequent caretakers of the internet have all agreed, regardless of political leanings, that the internet should be a place for the free-form sharing of content, opinions, ideas and innovation. We simply take this for granted, but this idea of a free and open internet may become a distant memory if officials with close ties to the telecommunications industry on Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) get their way.
In 2015, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order, which reclassified broadband service as a utility. This allowed the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules and ensure that broadband providers do not block users’ access to content, slow down connections to services or charge for speedier delivery of preferred content. Without these rules, small businesses who can’t afford to pay hefty fees could see their content obscured or even blocked, rendering them unable to compete in online marketplaces. Individuals would be steered toward companies who could afford to make sure their content loaded fastest, leaving everyone else in the dust.
But Ajit Pai, Trump’s pick to lead the FCC, is working to revoke the rules governing net neutrality to allow internet service providers to prioritize websites whose owners pay more — to favor his friends in the Internet Service Provider and telecom industries at the expense of consumer rights. With only a single pro-net neutrality voice left on Trump’s FCC and after Republicans in Congress recently voted to repeal internet privacy rules, we must act now.
Net neutrality is personal for CREDO Mobile. As a mobile phone company that fights for progressive values, we know the importance of protecting the internet, because the internet is a place for the free flow of communication and ideas — especially those critical of our government or corporate power. When our customers pay for a data plan, they expect to be connected to an open internet where they can freely exchange ideas in support of these progressive values without threat of corporate censorship. Net neutrality not only encourages technological innovation and competition, but it also protects privacy and gives communities the power to elevate their voices, allowing them to tell their own stories without corporations playing favorites or controlling content.
The threat to net neutrality is more urgent than ever, but it is not new. For more than a decade, we’ve been defending the internet from attacks by both corporations and the government. When George W. Bush deregulated broadband and opened the door for big corporations to discriminate on the internet, CREDO sounded the alarm. We’ve taken on both Democrats and Republicans in this fight, and corporate interests have spent enormous sums of money lobbying against us.
In 2015, after we donated over one million dollars and after hundreds of thousands of CREDO members and millions of others took action to protect the open internet, we scored a major victory that secured basic net neutrality protections for all internet users when the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order which reclassified broadband service as a utility and allowed the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules. Now, broadband providers cannot block users’ access to content, slow down connections to services or charge for speedier delivery of preferred content.
But under Pai and Trump, these protections are again under attack, threatening competition, innovation, free speech and equality of access on the internet. In May, on a party-line vote, the FCC took the first steps to officially begin rolling back net neutrality rules.
Last week, we stood firm in our opposition along with dozens of tech companies including Netflix, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit – along with leading Net Neutrality advocates we’ve funded like Fight for the Future, Free Press and Demand Progress – for a day of action on July 12 to protect net neutrality. The day broke records, with over two million people submitting comments to the FCC in favor of net neutrality. But the public ― and all the businesses, institutions of learning and sectors across the entire economy that depend on a free and open exchange of ideas to innovate and thrive ― need to make their voices heard too and make clear to Congress that the internet belongs to all of us, equally.
Millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands of CREDO members, spoke out to force the FCC to make net neutrality the law of the land before. Now we must raise our voices once again to stop the latest attack on net neutrality and preserve the free and open Internet.