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The Federal Communications Commission announced this week that it will propose new rules that would allow companies to pay Internet service providers (ISP) for special, faster lanes to deliver their content to customers. That means that large corporations like Disney or Netflix could pay to have their content delivered more smoothly, while small start-ups or anyone without the funds to pay would be stuck with slow or low-quality service.
The rule change would be devastating for net neutrality, the principle that ISPs must treat all content on the Internet equally and that users should have equal access to see any legal content. In an environment where large corporations can pay for faster service, it would become exceedingly difficult for start-ups and every day internet users to compete.
Earlier this year, a federal appeals court struck down rules the FCC implemented in 2010 to protect net neutrality on the grounds that the agency classifies broadband providers as information service providers and not telecommunications service providers, which can be regulated more strictly. As John Nichols points out, it is well within the FCC's power to reclassify internet access as a telecommunications service and to reassert its authority to protect net neutrality.
Don't stand by while the internet is transformed into a pay-to-play service. Contact FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and tell him that we need a free and open internet.
The headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission. (Flickr/Federal Communications Commission)