Time For War Again: Net Neutrality Part 2

It's an unusually cold day in New Orleans, and the skeleton crew operating out of Moynahan Tower is huddled in groups in blankets and around small space heaters. Regular operations for Moynacorp are ceased for the day due to the inclement weather -- when's the last time you tried driving around the Crescent City on ice? -- but several of us have gathered to push an initiative that's largely unrelated to our business but is important enough to merit all the effort we can give it.

We posted a blog article about net neutrality a few months ago, and that article is beginning to feel all the more timely. Having already illustrated the basic concepts of net neutrality, we will only touch on them here and encourage you to read the older article for more details, and then explain why we are calling on you to act now. Right now, in this very moment.

Net neutrality is the idea that internet traffic should not be regulated under any conditions, whether they be related to ownership, competition, or other facets of power. It means that if my cellphone service is with AT&T, I should be able to watch Netflix, a competitor of AT&T and Verizon, without experiencing slower data speeds. Without net neutrality, AT&T would be free to throttle their customers' data whenever they access Netflix or any other service that isn't owned or controlled by them.

You might have seen the statements in which large telecom companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast have said, "We support net neutrality! We would never throttle our customers' data just because they used a competing product." But the wording there is very specific. Net neutrality should be fully neutral. Such companies can promise not to throttle competitors' sites, but then offer increased data speeds and improved viewing experiences for customers using services owned by them, like AT&T's DirecTV Now.

This is still dangerous because it prevents small companies and startups from participating in the telecommunications industry. Consider this: if Netflix had not brought positive disruption to TV viewing, we would still be shackled to our cable boxes. We would not have independently-made shows like Netflix's Marvel series, or Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, or Amazon's Mozart In The Jungle, among so many others.

Why is this topic so important today? On Thursday, December 14, the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai (a former lawyer for Verizon), is scheduled to hold a vote to determine whether net neutrality laws will be upheld or revoked. Because this is a vote happening in the FCC, there's little that the public can do to influence it directly. Only Congress can challenge it -- and that's where you come in.

You can contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to stop the FCC from destroying net neutrality. If you prefer not to call, tweeting at them and emailing them works just as well. Let your Congresspeople know that you, their constituent, are against building more barriers to entry among telecoms. Tell them that you are against supporting unfair competitive advantages. Tell them that the Internet is meant to be accessed and enjoyed by all, without the interference of government or corporations.

We've won this battle before and we can win it again. Use your voice and help us send an unequivocal message for the freedom of information and enterprise.

-CM