How to Explain Why Net Neutrality Is Important to Your Friends Who Don’t Understand It

Last week, the FCC announced plans to ditch net neutrality , potentially giving ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T free rein to limit speeds, block websites they don’t like, and split the internet. into slow and fast lanes.

This dreadful scenario alone should be enough to convince most people to remain net neutral. But if you’re struggling to convince a friend, neighbor, or coworker that the FCC is about to make a huge mistake, here are some conversation topics to help you substantiate your argument.

1. “Think of it like a cable …”

This is the clearest way to explain the importance of net neutrality. Most people have paid for TV at some point and understand how cable TV providers force you to pay extra for channels you don’t want to just watch on HBO or follow your favorite sports team.

These new rules can do the same with the Internet by dividing it into groups. Love Netflix? You may have to pay extra for a bunch of other streaming services that you’re not interested in either. It’s the same with social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you need a visual aid, use this picture of internet package options in Portugal. It’s a little lacking in context , but it still conveys the point fairly accurately.

2. “The Internet should be viewed as a utility, like electricity or water.”

You may not physically need the Internet to survive, but for most of us it has become an absolute must. We rely on the Internet to work, communicate with family and friends, and organize our lives.

Putting such an important tool in the hands of companies that care about profit above all else is a dangerous idea. You will not let the free market determine the price of tap water or electricity without regulation. So why should we let him decide the fate of the Internet?

3. “Net neutrality protects us from online censorship”

A key aspect of current net neutrality laws is that they prevent ISPs from blocking websites with which they disagree. The abolition of these laws will open up the Internet to all types of censorship.

This could mean suppressing innovation, such as when AT&T tried to block access to Skype , making it impossible for new companies to compete in the future. It can also mean that ISPs censor articles and websites that criticize them, or simply compete with their own media .

4. “Investments in Internet infrastructure have actually grown since 2015.”

The new FCC order is a direct response to laws passed by the same government agency in 2015 during the Obama administration. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s argument is that these laws are holding back innovation and keeping large companies from investing in new Internet infrastructure.

However, a Free Press report found that internet investment has actually grown since 2015. ISPs have spent more money expanding their networks in the past two years than before. The revenues of these companies also continue to grow, outstripping the growth rate of the US economy.

The argument that net neutrality hurts these companies does not hold water. If anything, it helps by giving ISPs clear laws to follow.

5. “Net neutrality is not even an Obama-era decree”

This last argument should help if you are arguing with someone who opposes net neutrality simply because of their connection to Barack Obama. It is true that the current rules were adopted in 2015 under the leadership of Obama, but in reality, net neutrality dates back to 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush.

Net neutrality has its roots in North Carolina, where a rural telephone company tried to block its customers through an internet calling app called Vonage. The operator was fined by the FCC for anti-competitive behavior, which paved the way for today’s net neutrality laws.

Ajit Pye and Donald Trump aren’t just trying to disrupt Obama’s job. Their plan could negate all the good things that we are all used to in the free and open Internet.


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