Do you talk to your family and friends back home over Skype or WhatsApp? You might not be able to for much longer if President Trump’s newly appointed FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, has it his way.
In three weeks the FCC plans to eliminate basic net neutrality protections that ensure Americans have an open Internet and tech innovators compete on a fair playing field. These protections killed AT&T’s attempt to block Skype on the iPhone in 2009 when they feared it would hurt their profit margins. Net neutrality principles also ensured startups with the best ideas had the chance to succeed, not just those with the deepest pockets or closest ties to powerful cable companies.
Legal expert Tim Wu fears the FCC’s new proposal could even undermine free expression by opening the door for companies like Comcast and Verizon to block any online content they don’t like. This has already happened before. In Canada, one Internet provider blocked access to a pro-union website in order to prevent workers’ ability to assemble and build public support. Without taking a stand, similar censorship could become commonplace in the US. At the very least, the FCC’s decision would mean higher bills and slower Internet speeds for users who access websites and apps that don’t make special deals with cable companies.
The Internet as it stands today enables us to connect with our loved ones back home faster and more affordably than ever before. It ensured our voices were heard all the way from Ireland when we expressed our dismay after President Trump announced his unconstitutional travel ban in February. It’s how our ballots were emailed to us so we could easily vote from abroad during the many special elections throughout the year.
Let’s do our part to stop the FCC and cable companies from changing the Internet we know and love:
Democrats Abroad Ireland