How to Boycott Your ISP When Net Neutrality Dies

Net neutrality isn’t dead yet , but FCC Chairman Ajit Pye (and ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T) have taken a big step towards victory after Thursday ‘s vote . However, if all planned dissidents, appeals, and protests fail, and pure neutrality is really being done, it may be time to seriously think about boycotting your ISP when , if they start to abuse their power under these new rules.

“How can I boycott the Internet?” you might think. “I need it in almost every aspect of my life.” While this is true, there are several ways that Americans can organize a protest against their ISPs through boycotts. Here’s what you might want to consider if the situation gets worse.

What is a boycott?

Basically, a boycott is a tool that people can use against companies with which they disagree. This usually means refusing to buy a service or product in order to put economic pressure on the company, with the understanding that the boycott will end only when certain requirements are met.

When it comes to something you can’t live without (like the Internet), the boycott idea gets a little more vague. In some cases, you may indeed opt out of your current internet provider. In other cases, a more symbolic boycott may be a better option. Let’s see how these different possibilities can be realized.

How to actually boycott your ISP

If you are fortunate enough to have more than one ISP to choose from, it can be quite easy to boycott your current ISP. There is even a dedicated website that shows all the options at your exact location. So, for example, I currently pay for Verizon, but if the company starts to abuse its new powers, I can switch to Charter or the smaller NYC Xchange Telecom .

However, many countries in America do not have this opportunity. According to a 2014 study, almost a third of the country is limited to one ISP. More recent data compiled by the FCC showed that 129 million Americans are restricted by ISPs that have already violated net neutrality in some way while those laws were still in effect.

In this case, there are a few more (more complex) options. You can organize your community to create your own local internet service provider . This is not entirely unheard of and is already happening in some parts of the country. However, it also requires a lot of money and work – you’ll have to buy and install fiber optic cables or build a mesh Wi-Fi network . This also takes time and serious organization, but in this case it is worth it.

Other boycott options

If you can’t really opt out of the offending provider, you still have ways to get your message across. You can try an organized day boycott , either by refusing to use your internet for the day, or even canceling your service en masse one day due to net neutrality issues, only to re-subscribe a day later. It may not be as strong a signal as a real boycott, but it’s still better than nothing.

Alternatively, you can focus your efforts on damaging your ISP’s reputation without canceling your service. This can mean writing articles, organizing on social media, public protest, or talking to government leaders. Do your best to get your message across to the public. Just understand that it may not be enough to save the Internet, and be prepared to seriously boycott your ISP if it really becomes necessary.


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