Net Neutrality Repeal: Why History Shows us this is a Bad Policy

It’s over.

Despite millions of tweets, and 22 million complaints, the FCC has followed through on its plan to roll back net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality is the concept that we treat the internet like a utility. Everyone has the same access at all sites. ISPs can’t create fast and slow lanes for different websites, or charge customers more for access to some?

Now that all of that is gone, the question is: What now?

While the answers are unclear, the possibilities are not good.

With ISPs being able to charge more for access to some sites, the divide between those that have and those that don’t could grow further.

How can we make a difference?

Maybe we should call our independent company that provides those services. Tell them not to change their access and keep everything the status quo?

If history is any indicator, don’t wait for the ISPs to respond to market demand. They won’t listen

Rural Texas in the 1930a was a land with almost no electricity, and limited radio communications.

The need was there for equal access to electricity. The demands were made.

No action was done.

Future House Speaker Sam Rayburn

In the book Path to Power, published in 1990, author Robert A Caro quotes the following remarks made by future House Speaker Sam Rayburn during a Congressional debate about access to electricity in rural America.

“ ‘When the free market had the opportunity to electrify farm homes — after fifty years they had electrified three percent,’ he was to say.” (p. 521)

Only once government became involved were they listened to.

Back then the big electric companies didn’t listen.

Why would the ISPs listen now?

The new call to action needs to be for free public internet.

The internet is this generation’s electricity. From banking, to research, to recreation, all aspects of our lives involve the internet in one way or another. It creates a connection between all of us that transcends race, class, gender, or religion You can live without it, but it’s not easy.

And just like everyone got the same electricity back in Texas, everyone needs the same access to internet.

And access doesn’t just mean the ability to use it, it means using it fully.

Imagine a student who wants to get a degree online. What if his internet is so slow he can’t watch videos for his class?

He has internet.

But not really.

What if he wants better internet, but can’t afford to pay for it? How can he climb out of his situation?

The world is moving fast. The income gap is growing. We can’t take one of the few things we still have that is equal for everyone and make it unequal.

Net neutrality is about giving everyone access to same info. It’s about economics, opportunity, and equality.

If the FCC won’t listen, let’s call our representatives to advocate for increased infrastructure spending to give internet access to everyone.

Call your House Representative at 202–225–1904 or your U.S. Senator at 202–224–3121.