[I copied that headline from vanityfair.com because I'm lousy at headlines and “net neutrality” - which is what this is about - sounds boring. But it's important and depending on what happens, it could ruin your internet experience while also costing you more money for access.]
Here is a clear and concise, two-minute explanation of net neutrality from Armand Valdez at Mashable:
That was 2014. It is now three years later and this next video is an interview that was broadcast last week on the PBS Newshour with the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, about his plans to trash the net neutrality regulations that took effect in 2015.
Yes, it is seven-and-a-half minutes of two talking heads but it will save you 4,285 paragraphs written by me and give you some insight into this Trump-appointee:
Oh, man, this guy Pai is smooth. That alone should worry us all but don't forget, too, that like the rest of the Trump cabinet and agency heads, his first inclination is to trash the organization he now leads.
Since his appointment in January, Commissioner Pai has, according to billmoyers.com, already
”... moved aggressively to roll back Obama-era consumer protections and other regulations. He has undermined a program that provided low-cost broadband service to poor customers; eased FCC limits on shared service agreements between TV stations in the same market; reversed a rule that limited the number of airwaves any one broadcaster can own throughout the country; and removed caps on fees that ISPs could charge hospitals, small businesses and wireless carriers in markets where there is little competition.”
Further, in March, President Trump signed a bill that overturned a regulation requiring that internet service providers ask consumers' permission before collecting data from them about online activities. So that's gone now.
“'Recent weeks are prologue, and I am fearful that we are moving in a direction that will unravel and undo some incredible gains we’ve made for consumers,' Mignon Clyburn, the sole Democratic commissioner at the FCC, told The New York Times>.”
Since Mr. Pai's appointment in January, telecom and cable companies have flooded the FCC and members of Congress with requests to kill net neutrality. In addition, however,
”About 800 tech start-ups and investors, organized by the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator and the San Francisco policy advocacy group Engine,” reports The New York Times, protested the unwinding of net neutrality in a letter sent to Mr. Pai [last week].
“'Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market,” they wrote...”
Columbia University law professor, Tim Wu, is the man who coined the term “net neutrality.” Last Friday, he spoke out forcefully in The New York Times against Commissioner Pai's intention to make net neutrality voluntary (read: “eliminate”).
He notes that the change would raise prices on everyone and that net neutrality is wildly popular; a few years ago, four million people wrote the FCC to demand stronger controls of the cable industry “while those who took cable's side would have fit in the commission's lobby,” wrote Wu.
Here is some more of what he wrote:
”In analyzing the attack on net neutrality, one looks in vain for the problem that needs to be fixed...
“...it has sheltered bloggers, nonprofit organizatin like Wikipredia, smaller tech companies, TV and music streamers, and entrepreneurs from being throttled by providers like AT&T and Verizon that own the 'pipes'.”
Not to put too fine a point on this, it would mean that TimeGoesBy (and any of your blogs) could take so long to load onto your screen that readers would give up and never return.
More from Wu:
”Make no mistake: While killing net neutrality may be rolled out with specious promises of 'free video', there is nothing here for ordinary people. Lowering prices is just not something that cable or phone companies will do except under pressure.
“Instead, the repeal of net neutrality will simply create ways for cable and phone companies to tax the web and increase your broadband bill. Raise your hand if that sounds enticing.”
As vanityfair.com reports, the proposal will go up for a vote at the FCC's open meeting on 18 May. If it is approved (it will be), the public will have 60 days to file comments at the FCC website.
When that happens, I'll be reminding you of the need to make yourself heard and with this post today, you have the information we need to understand this crucial fight - and it is a fight, as Commissioner Pai himself made abundantly clear in a speech last week:
”Make no mistake about it,” he said. “This a fight that we intend to wage and it is a fight that we are going to win.”