A free and open internet is vital for our democracy and for our daily lives. But the Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that threatens net neutrality – and therefore threatens the internet as we know it.
Former Verizon lawyer and FCC Chairman Pai wants to reverse hard-won rules that protect millions of internet users’ access to a free and open web. Instead of treating the internet as a public utility like the telephone system or radio waves, Pai is making moves to let the wealthiest corporations run the Web.
His plan opens the way to pay-to-play “fast lanes” for those who can afford it – and slower connections for everyone else’s websites. This could give mega-corporations control over the information we consume every day.
Who would lose? Independent news outlets, small businesses, start-up blogs, grassroots activist groups… and everyone who uses the internet.
If the government abdicates its oversight responsibility, internet service providers like Time Warner and Comcast – and yes, Verizon – could arbitrarily privilege some content and assign painfully slow connections to other. In other words, giant internet companies would have the power to prioritize what we read, watch, and explore online.
This would be devastating to civil rights organizations and activists, who can’t afford to pay corporations to make their voices heard. The internet has been a vital tool for scrappy campaigns and movements, but they may not have enough resources to survive in Chairman Pai’s pay-to-play model.
We can’t let this happen. In 2015, millions raised their voices to demand net neutrality protections and won. We can win again, and we must. Our fundamental freedoms – and our democracy – are at stake.
the website of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.