/ Net Neutrality

A Preemption

I'm just here to preempt the deluge of stupid takes tomorrow that says, "see, the internet is fine." There is probably a lawsuit being filed against the FCC as I type this.

If we're lucky the courts will halt the Open Internet Order's revocation and then a lengthy court battle will proceed. It's entirely possible that it takes years for this all to play out (it took years of lawsuits to get us to 2015's internet order). It might be a while before the telecoms start outright screwing us is what I'm getting at.

That being said there's still time and action we can take to protect the Open Internet Order. A rusty tool in Congress's toolbox called the Congressional Review Act. Most recently, I believe, dusted off in an effort to overturn Obama's NLRB rules that allowed speedier unionization. A simple majority in the house and senate can overturn a regulation from an executive agency. The president can then veto that (considering Trump appointed Pai that's the most likely outcome) and then with 60 votes Congress can override that veto. A plurality of Americans support Net Neutrality protections. Republicans and Democrats alike asked Pai to halt his decision today. Congress has 60 days to use the CRA authority. Keep calling your reps, it's working.

It's impossible to stress exactly how important this issue is. Increasingly, the world is the web. Internet connected devices and sensors permeate our daily lives. Those devices and the content they access should be treated equally no matter which company has stake in a particular piece of content or product or by how the end-user wants to use those devices.

As Commissioner Clyburn pointed out in her dissent today, without Net Neutrality there are gross implications for organizing and grassroots activism. We didn't learn about Ferguson because major media companies were reporting on it. We learned about it because of trending hashtags.

Hashtags have proven effective in uniting voices from disparate regions of the around a cause. The tags label and aggregate the information and social media platforms use that feature to make the tagged information more accessible. Just as those tags are used to make the information more accessible an ISP could take that labeled information and block access to any data with that tag.

Imagine the government leaning on a telco or, more likely, a vertically integrated company giving an edge to the content it owns or suppressing customer outrage. To achieve this you wouldn't even need to block the content out right. For example, Amazon found that a 100ms delay resulted in 1 percent less sales on their website.

People tend to make up their mind on a website within seconds of visiting. If the content doesn't load or doesn't load quickly then they'll likely move on and never return. Introducing slight delays to suppress dissenting content would be an especially effective tactic.

Worse yet, is that as long as the company has it written somewhere accessible that they engage in those practices, then they're in the clear. They've met the transparency rules imposed by Pai's FCC.

One day the outrage around Net Neutrality will subside and we'll be able to go back to enjoying the internet uninterrupted without the constant outrage of our peers, but we have to work to ensure that day will come.

Here are some groups that make contacting your represenatives simple.
Fight for the Future
Battle for the Net