On the Open Internet

Attached is the letter I am sending my representatives. If you’re already eager to help protect our individual internet freedom from ISPs’ corporate influence, check out the quick actions here.

Dear Representative,

As an entrepreneur, a software developer, and product manager for a young company, I urge you to protect the FCC’s Open Internet rules (secured through Title II of the Communications Act), and in so doing, protect the foundation of the American tech industry and the well-being of internet users across the country.

The success of small and innovative companies like ours, since the dawn of the world wide web, has been made possible by the equal opportunity the web offers to all who connect to it. The global reputation and financial success of Silicon Valley was established on the internet’s equal and open opportunity. Should the fairness and transparency of the web be tarnished, I am truly concerned that American innovation and the country’s place in the global technology sector will flounder and eventually fail.

My company’s success depends on our ability to focus as much energy as possible on developing our product, and if we now need to fight a battle against multi-billion dollar industries just to secure our ability to transmit our product over the internet, we (and all companies like us) will not be able to survive for long without resorting to back-room dealings with the ISPs whose support we would be bound to depend on.

Should that fairness and transparency be tarnished, I am truly concerned that American innovation and its place in the global technology sector will flounder.

On the other side of the wire, users of the internet depend on its ubiquity and its neutrality to help secure our increasingly difficult right to express, and hear those expressing, one of the country’s most significant foundational values, freedom of speech. In a world where formal media opportunities are increasingly expensive — think of a local business owner trying to pay for TV commercials or billboards in a market catering to billion dollar multinationals; or a town representative trying to allow their voice to be heard through the deafening campaigns out of Washington — in a world already facing these financial bottlenecks, the small business, the local yokel, or any other grassroots movement faces extinction if their ability to leverage the open internet is compromised.

And finally, I worry that allowing cable companies and large scale internet providers to enact despicable corporate practices will anger and frustrate more and more people who already feel like their mistreatment falls on deaf ears. There is a reason Charter, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and AT&T and other ISP customers are regularly the most unsatisfied in America — and it comes down to those companies making enough money to prevent them from needing to care about ethical practices and focusing on their customers’ best interests. They are reduced to effective money making machines.

There is a reason Charter, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and AT&T, and other ISP customers are regularly the most unsatisfied in America.

The more people who are frustrated by these companies’ actions, the more we will see an internet plagued by hostility, as people turn to more dangerous alternatives. We cannot control the internet in absolution. There will always be people working to find ways around the kinds of restrictions ISPs could put in place — and sometimes, those people also leverage their knowledge to take advantage of internet “refugees” who follow them down these paths out of desperation. Consider the early days of peer-to-peer download technology — it almost immediately became a tool for piracy and malware proliferation, even despite the best intentions of its purest users.

Facing greater frustration, more users will be motivated to resort to dangerous parts of the internet.

By telling people that we value corporate dollars more than fairness or information privacy, we push more innocent users into parts of the internet that are designed to be impossible to regulate. In so doing, we actually face increased chances of piracy, easily accessible illicit content, virus proliferation, and vulnerability to hacking.

This is not a partisan issue: this is a campaign run by multinational internet service providers hoping to acquire more power and face less corporate competition.

So, I am sending this letter to all of my representatives, the FCC, my professional colleagues, and my friends and family. Please consider my thoughts carefully, and join me in publicly expressing support for the existing FCC’s Open Internet (net neutrality rules).

Action You Can Take

  • Submit a comment to the FCC about net neutrality in their current proceeding here. Feel free to take any excerpt from this article, or use this site’s pre-written message.
  • Check your representation here to send them a letter.
  • Read this official blurb about “The Open Internet” from the FCC’s current protection, here and here (PDF). It’s a single page.