We all need a free and open internet

We live in pretty remarkable times. You can pick up a phone, a tablet, or a computer — and the entire world is at your fingertips. Want to go read something? Want to watch something? Want to buy something? Anything and anybody — any thoughts you want to listen to, or any services you want to use — are at your disposal. That means that you, from wherever you are, can use the internet to make a lasting impact on the world. Our lives as we know it are currently shaped because the Internet is what it is: a place where everyone and everything is treated equally.

All of that is at risk right now.

If you tried to pull up Netflix, Amazon, or your small neighborhood’s newspaper up on your phone, and the page never loaded, what would you do? If we’re being honest, you’d probably put your phone down in frustration.

Maybe never come back to that service again.

Maybe switch to one that did load on your phone.

Without net neutrality, that could happen more and more. Net neutrality means that your internet service provider (your ISP) — the company that gives you internet at home — can’t introduce “speed bumps” or a “fast lane” for certain companies. They can’t play favorites and be subtly influencing your choices.

Let me make this more concrete: you love watching Netflix. I don’t know you, but I think that’s a pretty safe guess. What would happen if, this Friday night, Netflix just wouldn’t load, or took 10 minutes to start a show? Or maybe Netflix worked but looked blocky and never came through in HD. You would probably just watch something else.

What if your TV provider, who also happens to be the company that brings internet to your house, decided to do that on purpose? What if they wanted you to be watching their content or using their video-on-demand service? If the FCC removes net neutrality protections, our ISPs could start playing favorites and making this happen.

It could get a lot worse than not being able to watch “House of Cards.” What happens if you bought a home camera to watch your baby, but, it didn’t stream to your phone outside your house because your ISP didn’t choose that brand of home camera as one of its favorites? Maybe you bought a new phone, brought it home, but it couldn’t really get online on your home’s wifi because it wasn’t the brand of phone that your ISP sells. We need net neutrality to ensure this never happens.

And, one more level. What if you wanted to start a small company and sell things on Etsy, but you couldn’t get Etsy to load because your ISP hasn’t chosen it as a favorite? Or maybe your neighborhood cafe’s web page never loaded so you couldn’t find out their hours? Without net neutrality, small companies, who are building the future of America, may never get off the ground. You may never start that company, or that cafe may never thrive.

Why is this happening now?

In 2015, the FCC under President Obama put tough rules in place to keep ISPs from playing favorites — because we need to protect budding startups and small businesses from being stamped out by big corporations. These net neutrality rules helps ensure that these businesses, as well as marginalized or underrepresented communities, as well as all Americans, can have their voice heard.

We’re Democrats. But, we believe that everybody should care about having an open internet. We think it is crucial to protecting our First Amendment right to free speech and to leveling the playing field for small businesses. Innovation in an open internet means that one American voice is equally as powerful as a big-time CEO. The world above is not that far from happening, and that affects all of us. The current Republicans want to trade away our voices — and that’s unacceptable.

We need to have a free and open internet so that you get make these types of choices, not so corporations can make them on your behalf. You deserve a free an open internet where you get to make all the choices on what you see and what you do. We need a free and open internet so that small companies can build and try new ideas and services. We need a free and open internet so that the exchange of ideas isn’t regulated by the people who send your internet and phone bill. We’ve got to fight back so the current Republicans and big corporations can’t make that closed internet world a reality.

That’s where you come in.

Tell the FCC that you want to be able to make your own internet user experiences, you don’t want big companies making them for you. Tell them removing net neutrality protections hurts innovation and American competitiveness. Tell them to take their hands off your internet. You can go to battleforthenet.com to learn all you need to know and to fight back.

Do it today, because if we don’t, we might not be able to access the internet tomorrow.