Net neutrality is at threat again – and the FCC hopes your Thanksgiving turkey will distract you

Updated US regulators are expected to reverse fairness rules, implemented during Obama’s era to protect net neutrality, while many journalists are out the office.

Net neutrality is the idea that all businesses and consumers should be treated by internet providers the same — to most people, that seems fair.

Some ISPs argue that some companies put greater demand on their networks than others; such as Netflix. Without net neutrality rules, ISPs could ask for more cash from a company like Netflix so their users can have fast access. If not, their users could be put on a ‘slow lane’ and suffer as a result.

Similarly, if an ISP owns or strikes a deal with certain internet services, it could slow down competitors to give it a competitive advantage. This could be anything from streaming videos, to just loading simple web pages. Google claims 53 percent of users will abandon loading a web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load; which means every second counts.

This “paid prioritisation” was blocked in rules back in 2015 after much outcry, and it’s likely many hoped that would be the end of it.

Consumer groups and big internet companies argue that such regulation is needed to curb the power of the broadband providers and prevent them from rigging the internet through their control over the pipes.

The new plan is set to be announced on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Holidays are often used to pass controversial legislation while people are distracted.

Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, posted on Reddit a month ago to start drumming up support.

“The good news is that we are hearing from people who are meeting with Congress that there are key lawmakers who are sympathetic to the cause, and considering stepping in to slow down the FCC,” wrote Greer. But they need to be getting a lot more phone calls from constituents in order to act.”

The changes are expected to be adopted at the Federal Communications Commission meeting in mid-December. If you care about keeping the internet fair, don’t be distracted by the turkey this year.

An easy click-to-call tool has been set up at https://www.battleforthenet.com

Updated: The FCC appears to have played its hand. A statement issued by the regulator says there will be a vote on December 14 to ‘restore internet freedom and eliminate heavy-handed internet regulations' - or in other words, repeal net neutrality rules.

A statement from Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, added the decision under the Obama administration to approve net neutrality was ‘a mistake’ having ‘depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.’

“As a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015,” Pai added.

You can read the full FCC statement here (pdf).

Are you concerned about net neutrality? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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