Open Letter to FCC Commissioners Pai, O’Rielly, and Carr

To:

  • ajit.pai@fcc.gov” <ajit.pai@fcc.gov>,
  • mike.orielly@fcc.gov <mike.orielly@fcc.gov>,
  • “brendan.carr@fcc.gov” <brendan.carr@fcc.gov>

Subject: Please preserve Net Neutrality and vote to preserve Title II classification


Commissioners,

I am writing today because of your stated intent to eliminate Net Neutrality by removing strong Title II regulations on internet service providers.

Please don’t talk to me about “freedom”. Part of being in a functional society is sacrificing certain freedoms for the greater good. A shipping company should not have the “freedom” to delay my mail because they don’t like where it comes from. My power company should not have the “freedom” to charge me extra because I’m using appliances they disapprove of. Neither should my internet provider have the “freedom” to govern what I can access on the internet. Anything can be framed as a “freedom”. That doesn’t make it inherently right, and gentlemen, you know this.

Please don’t talk to me about “going back to the way things were”. In 20 years, the internet has grown and changed. A DVD delivery service started streaming titles online, eventually rewriting how we consume TV and movies. A garage project designed for sharing videos among friends was bought by Google and became synonymous with online video. A daring online marketplace became a retail giant. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon — these sites saw great success, but were able to do so because the landscape was incomparably different. YouTube was not competing with ISPs pushing their own video platforms. Amazon was not fighting with Comcast or Verizon’s attempts at online shopping. The entire internet ecosystem has grown and changed in my lifetime, and to speak of “going back to the way things were” indicates that you either don’t recognize this simple truth or don’t care about it.

Please don’t talk to me about “competition”. Where I live, in a small-to-medium city, there is only one internet service provider of note. Tell me, how am I supposed to “vote with my wallet” if this service provider starts metering my internet access or restricting what I can do? In this day and age, when the internet is how people search for housing, look for jobs, connect with friends, and entertain themselves, how are those poorer than me supposed to “vote with their wallets” if there is no other internet alternative? Are they, in 2017, supposed to disconnect from the internet? Or are they supposed to begrudgingly accept what their provider will give them? Gentlemen, for three men who like to talk a lot about “freedom” in internet service, that scenario sounds an awful lot like the opposite.

Please don’t tell me that my concerns are “imagined”. In 2012, AT&T prevented the usage of the FaceTime application on its service because it offered an alternative. The same year, Comcast restricted access to Netflix because Xfinity offered a similar streaming service. In 2006, AOL blocked emails that linked to a site critical of AOL. In 2005, during a labor dispute, Telus cut subscribers’ access to a site that supported the union. The history shows us unequivocally that without the strong protections of Net Neutrality and Title II regulation, the internet is not a bastion of free speech — it is a walled garden where ISPs can determine what their customers deserve to see. Gentlemen, if you actually care about the substantive freedoms of everyday Americans, you will recognize how chilling your stance is.

Gentlemen, I worry that either you have not considered the full implications of your dangerous stance, or that you don’t care. I urge you to reconsider. Do not approve this dangerous restriction on the freedom of the internet. Vote to preserve strong Title II protections.

Sincerely,

Spencer


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