Why Net Neutrality Is More Important Than You Know

Today was #NetNeutralityAction Day. Because I work with online communications in the public sector, this is an important issue for me. I’ve contacted my representatives in Congress with my thoughts.

Trump’s FCC is currently attempting to roll back the Tittle II regulations which prevent broadband providers (i.e. Comcast) from charging added fees to content provides (Netflix) to carry data. Under the Obama administration, the FCC declared internet broadband a telecommunications utility service and imposed regulations to keep such business deals from happening. In short, it required providers to treat all data content with parity, whether it is from Amazon or NASA.

Rollback of the regulations would remove such conditions, and allow service providers to charge more money to content providers for faster speeds and more bandwidth.

At face value, this would seem to respect free market principles, but let’s go deeper. Establishing a tier approach to providing content is dangerous. Those companies with deep pockets (Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon) can afford to pay higher fees.

But what about government, non-profit, education and other public sector websites? There’s the clincher. If we allow providers to classify and distribute bandwidth based on pay-to-play, those that cannot pay will reach smaller audiences.

For example, Rep. Luke Messer’s surveys will be less likely to land in constituents e-mail inboxes. They will also be slower. Education sites such as Ball State University and larger government sites like NASA.gov will also find it more challenging to distribute content. It reaches down to the local level. Consider your town’s website, or your school’s online presence. All could take a dramatic speed hit.

Will Congress and the government realize that rolling back Title 2 is a self-defeating action? I doubt it. As we’ve seen this year, ideological trumps pragmatism. I urge you to write you representatives and mention this angle. It may not have even occurred to them.