The FCC is voting this week on perhaps one of the biggest changes to the operation of the internet in the last few years. Chairman Ajit Pai, in all likelihood, will be the deciding vote that could eliminate net neutrality by revoking the Title II utility designation of internet service providers, giving them free rein to potentially package services the way TV channels are packaged.
The vote, coming on December 14, seems like a foregone conclusion at this point, but there are still protests planned, and an email-writing campaign has been ongoing. Through deliberate action or oversight, the FCC has ignored supporters of net neutrality - Pai has said the FCC will not be influenced by "poll numbers or letter counts" - and it appears the docket does not include the more than 50,000 complaints filed against the ISPs since net neutrality was enacted in 2015.
The New York attorney general has already sued the FCC to ensure that there is some sort of discourse allowed on the issue, but no court action has happened yet that could postpone the vote. There has also been a concerted effort by those in favor of the revocation to stuff the feedback box with bogus comments in favor of the repeal.
If you aren't sure exactly what all this means, here is a nutshell version: Net neutrality means that all content on the internet is the same. Users can access Facebook, CNN, Fox News, alt right or liberal left sites without fear of being blocked or throttled in connection speeds. Without this protection, ISPs are free to package content and charge more for it - say $10 for a social networking package of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, or $15 for all news websites.
This also becomes a problem for Americans that only have access to one ISP. They do not have the luxury of shopping around. Less than 25% of the country has access to two providers offering what we now consider high-speed access of more than 25mbps download speeds.
Even with the rules in place, the ISPs have attempted to skirt them in various ways. Most times they have faced fines or severe backlash from users.
So the topic is important, especially if you use the internet on a regular basis. No matter whether you are pro or con on revoking net neutrality, inform yourself on the topic. This is a very important issue that needs your attention and your voice. The FCC has not made it easy to solicit feedback on the topic - aka Docket 17-108 - but a website set up by Last Week Tonight's John Oliver has helped cut through the navigation problem.
December 14, people. You are on alert.