Tell FCC to preserve net neutrality

December 12, 2017

Thursday, Dec. 14, could see one of the most consequential votes in recent U.S. history. It's not an election. And you may not have heard about it.

Even if you did hear about it, you may have tuned it out. Because it sounds boring. It's called net neutrality, and the issue will be coming this week before the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC's decision could forever change the nature of the internet.

Here's what Wired magazine said: "On Dec. 14, the leadership of the Federal Communications Commission is forcing a vote that will repeal net neutrality rules that require equal access to all content on the internet. These rules prevent broadband providers from blocking access to websites. They prevent broadband providers from censoring content or from charging new fees to access the full universe of video and other services available online."

Jay Tomlinson of Lewes agrees.

Tomlinson was among the protestors braving Thursday's cold to alert locals to this week's vote.

Nearly 30 people lined up along Route 1 in front of the Rehoboth Verizon store holding signs protesting the potential end of net neutrality. Another seven people stood behind the store on Rehoboth Avenue.

Tomlinson, who is retired from Verizon, said that, given the chance, the company would likely take advantage of the opportunity to change its pricing policies.

"Where we have free and open internet today," he said, "you could imagine a system where there might be tiered pricing, like your cable package."

With cable, Tomlinson said, he winds up paying for channels he doesn't want.

Michele Lapinski, writing in the Delaware State News, paints an even more ominous future. "Repealing net neutrality will give internet and wireless providers the freedom to control what you see and how you see it and limit your access to information and services you use every day."
As Neil Irwin said in The New York Times, "Is access to the internet more like access to electricity, or more like cable television service?"

Electric utilities are regulated. That's because they're necessary for people to function in a modern society.

Cable TV, on the other hand, is considered discretionary. It's nice to have, but not necessary.

Where does the internet fall? Every day, it's becoming more of a necessity. People use the internet to pay bills, look for jobs, research consumer products, etc. According to The Hill, which covers politics, the public supports net neutrality. A new poll showed that 34 percent of respondents strongly supported the rules, and 26 percent somewhat supported the rules. Only 17 percent were strongly against net neutrality. The rest either didn't know or didn't have an opinion.

This played out across party lines, with 61 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans supporting the present rules. In fact, the only group that favored ending net neutrality was made up of web robots.

I'm not kidding. After the FCC solicited public comment, according to New York magazine, it received 1.2 million completely identical messages that supported the Trump Administration's position on ending net neutrality. The bots had spoken!

Wired magazine called on the FCC to delay Thursday's vote until the scandal is investigated. Don't hold your breath.

Speaking after the protest at an ACLU dinner, local activist Betty Deacon noted the number of drivers who honked that day in support of net neutrality.

But not all. Some drivers, she said, stopped their cars and asked, "What is net neutrality?"

At first, it seemed funny. Not any more. If people don't understand the issue, they won't complain.

And complaining to the FCC is the only way to maintain net neutrality. Go to the FCC website and email commissioners Mike O'Reilly and Brendan Carr. You can also go to to send a message.

As the website recommends, "On 12/12, Break the Internet to stop the FCC."

Don Flood

  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

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