Their lobbyists and lawyers have taken over the FCC — the agency meant to keep them in check. Now, the former lobbyist running the FCC is about to announce new rules that will kill Net Neutrality — the rule that stops Comcast, AT&T, or Verizon from deciding which sites you’re allowed to visit.
There are two specific subcommittees in Congress that could stop this decision before its officially proposed on May 15th, or even overturn it.
Right now, the internet works like this: both people and websites pay money to their local (often monopolistic) Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Comcast or Verizon. In return, they’re hooked up to the internet. Information flowing through the internet is all treated equally. Under these new rules, the ISPs could hold us hostage. Verizon could refuse to let us see Youtube unless Google hands them wheelbarrows full of cash. People researching medications might not be able to find the studies showing serious side effects if Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKlein and others pay big bucks to get their sites to show up fastest. Most alarmingly, the legal basis of these rules could allow ISPs to censor any site they didn’t like.
Groups like SumOfUs only exist because of the open internet of today. Under these new rules, new innovations would find it much harder to take off, because their superior design would be behind an intentionally broken and slow connection. Sites like Wikipedia could disappear from public view or start plastering themselves in ads to pony up the cash needed to pay Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon for the privilege of allowing us to access them.
The head of the FCC is a former lobbyist and telecommunications executive, and he’s hired Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T corporate flacks into the FCC specifically to draft rules for destroying the internet. No wonder they love his proposal.
This is an all-hands on deck moment.