Before it’s too late, net-neutrality supporters will call their reps to uphold FCC’s rule
Before Congress has a chance to vote on a Republican-backed bill to repeal the Federal Communication Commission’s Internet-access regulations passed in December, a grassroots effort is in motion to uphold the FCC’s rule to enforce net neutrality, essentially preventing network service providers from blocking access to certain legal websites.
The effort, led by public-interest group Public Knowledge and joined by the Media Action Grassroots Network and the Center for Media Justice, doesn’t call for tech-savvy protesters, just those with access to a phone. Net-neutrality supporters across the country have been asked to call their representatives and encourage a “no” vote to the proposed Repeal Act, that not only would kill the FCC’s regulations, but prevent the agency from ever ruling on this issue again.
For neutral-net supporters, the FCC’s regulations are modest: They don’t protect wireless users and allow various corporate loopholes for Internet companies.
But opponents argued at Wednesday’s hearing before the House Communications and Internet subcommittee on the FCC’s regulations, that the rulings would hurt business and competition.
As the Washington Post reported, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and his colleagues (the regulations passed in December, 3 to 2) defended the regulations against tough questions by Republican opponents, while Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) claimed the FCC’s rule would lead to even more regulations.
“If left unchallenged, this claim of authority would allow the FCC to regulate any matter it discussed in the national broadband plan,” Walden said. “Recall that the FCC concluded that consumers’ concerns over privacy are deterring broadband. Does that mean the FCC can regulate Internet privacy?”
Debates on net neutrality have been ongoing for years, but the finality of the Repeal Act has incited net-neutral supporters, who will be on the phones all day Thursday.
Center for Media Justice Executive Director Malkia A. Cyril wrote a column at the Huffington Post today:
On the heels of the Internet shut down in Egypt, it is more critical than ever that democratic governments limit the authority of private interests to determine what we have access to on the web in order to make more while giving us less. Right now, wireless users aren’t protected by the FCC’s net neutrality rules- providing us with immediate examples of what happens when a vulnerable community is abandoned to private interests.
MetroPCS, termed “Ghettro PCS” by many low-income black and latino subscribers, is a cell phone company that specifically targets its low-cost plans at low-income consumers. On its face, that sounds great. As a black working class wireless user, I want low cost service. But here’s the catch — while MetroPCS claims to offer unlimited service — it’s cheapest packages block phone users from access to the full Internet- allowing them to only use a few sites like Facebook and YouTube. Some say limited access is better than no access at all. But the real question is why can’t low-income phone users get great service at low cost without blocking their access to the whole Internet?