Categories: Decentralization IRL

Net Neutrality: Answers You Seek

Net neutrality has been in the headlines a lot recently. And while it’s a complicated issue, it’s a really important one to understand.

Recently, I spent the day with Heather West, Mozilla’s Senior Policy Manager and net neutrality expert, as we talked to people all over Washington, DC about net neutrality. After we wrapped our day, I compiled the most common questions we received from people on the street, and interviewed Heather for answers.

Net neutrality is admittedly a wonky subject, but if you’re reading this blog post, it means you use the internet. And, if you use the internet, net neutrality is something that affects you. Have a read through Heather’s FAQs to get smart on this pressing issue.

Q. What is net neutrality and why should I care?

A. Net neutrality is the idea that your internet service provider (ISP) — whether that’s Comcast, Verizon, or someone else — shouldn’t have the ability to pick and choose which service or content you can see, or make sites pay to have their content load quickly. You should care because net neutrality is about way more than packets of data — it affects competition, innovation, speech online, and user choice. Losing net neutrality would ultimately mean you have fewer choices for content, applications, and services online, in ways we can’t possibly imagine today.

Q. Why is net neutrality in the news now?

A. In 2015 — after more than a decade of broad discussion of this issue, and millions of public comments — the FCC finally adopted clear, strong rules to protect net neutrality, grounded in Congressional authority, and upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, although net neutrality is the kind of common sense policy everyone should support, the recently appointed FCC Chair has decided he would rather ISPs be empowered to pick and choose winners online. So, he just opened a formal proceeding to undo the FCC’s rules.

Q. Who opposes net neutrality and why?

A. The primary opponents of net neutrality are the ISPs, who want to find new ways to charge for internet access (whether they’re charging their subscriber or the website the subscriber wants to look at is part of this question), and to prioritize their own offerings over those of competitors. Some others oppose net neutrality because they’re being misled into believing that it’s all about “regulating the internet”, when in fact it’s anything but — it’s a policy to make sure that the internet will remain open and free for future innovators.

Q. Who thinks keeping net neutrality is a good idea and why?

A. Millions of internet users, technology innovators both large and small, librarians, creative artists, and a whole lot of others who care about the internet — including groups you might never guess, like the National Association of Realtors — have spoken out over many years in support of net neutrality. They all share an interest in preserving an open, user-driven, competition and innovation friendly internet for the future of our economy and our society.

Q. What is the Title I versus Title II debate I keep hearing about?

A. One of the things you’ll hear a lot in this debate is, “I support net neutrality…I just don’t like Title II”. But the bottom line is that the Title II net neutrality protections work, and  the Title I protections didn’t. That’s why the FCC chose to reclassify broadband services in 2015.

Communications law is always wonky and complicated, but I can try to explain, Title I and Title II — the two classifications that the FCC can use here — are different sections of communications law. The FCC tried two different times to protect net neutrality using Title I authority, and both times, a Federal court said that Title I wasn’t the right tool to use and rejected Title I net neutrality rules. Title II (for telecommunications and “common carriers”) has more protections for users than Title I such as requiring reasonable practices and privacy protections, and Title II gives the FCC flexibility too. Last year, the same Federal court strongly endorsed the FCC’s use of Title II and adoption of net neutrality rules.

Q. What is Mozilla doing about net neutrality?

A. Mozilla is doing everything we can to preserve and protect net neutrality — both in the U.S. and globally. We’re talking to our community and our grassroots partners about it, we track it in our Internet Health Report, and we’ll be submitting official comments to the FCC and talking to Congress.

Q. What can I do to make my voice heard on this issue?

A. Alongside our allies, we’re running a grassroots advocacy campaign on net neutrality to collect internet users’ comments and send them to the FCC, to help make sure they know how important this issue is to everyone.  You can also read our letter to the FCC and add your name here.

IRL with Veronica BelmontWant more real talk?

We only have one life, and we live it online and off. Being equipped with the knowledge and tools to take action offline about online issues — like net neutrality — is critical to a healthier world and Web.

Listen to the second episode of IRL (Mozilla’s original podcast), The Neutral Zone: The Future of Net Neutrality, when host Veronica Belmont explores exactly who wins — and who loses — if net neutrality is repealed.

Find IRL on our Website, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

10 comments on “Net Neutrality: Answers You Seek”

  1. Nancy Pennington wrote on

    I was literally cut off my site in an attempt to put my vote in for NEUTRALITY!
    OMG.

  2. Doug wrote on

    This story fails to mention that there are other ways to regulate the Internet, beside the FCC using Title I or Title II. Not even a mention of the Federal Trade Commission. Sad.

  3. Brian Joseph Contois wrote on

    Could the termination of net neutrality make way for every website to essentially become a paid subscription service? Will this become cable television all over again? Would I possibly have to pay a one time fee in order to see the US Constitution on line? WOULD THERE STILL BE ADS???

  4. Mekeds wrote on

    Love the web

  5. a. Desiato wrote on

    I just don’t understand why someone doesn’t give us another web. Why is it we need so much protection from companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft? These companies are bane to our existence they gather our info and sell it. We should be paid for our info if we want to give it to them. No one on the web respects our privacy how do we deal with this. We need a law stating personal info is not for free and companies haven’t any right to take it without our permission. NO one fights for this. When will someone fight for our rights?
    Some company is always sneaking around the corner to invade my privacy and I am sick of it.
    Going on a web site is an act of congress, i don’t want to register to look at a web site, I want to browse and be left alone. It’s like going into a store and having a salesman hovering over you.
    I tend to be turned off to web sites that expect me to register with them then send me email after email, who has time for this nonsense. I choose to be the one to go to a web site again if I am interested in the product.
    I feel like going on the web is like going to the library, or the mall, or school. But it isn’t like that it’s more like jumping into a pit with alligators.
    A. Desiato

  6. Bryan wrote on

    Why don’t you just explain the difference between Title I and II classifications, explaining, in the process, why Title I was pursued twice by the FCC.

    Don’t weasel out of the issue by appealing to the “bottom line” or invoking wonkiness as a reason not to explain something you ostensibly aim to explain.

    Do a better job.

    1. DNCq wrote on

      This is a blog post, not a formal article. It’s right in the URL. If you need to know the difference between Title I and Title II: Google it. Even Wikipedia has a nice write-up on it.

  7. Caroline Muirhead wrote on

    Hello,
    For me it is just censorship. We will see and hear only what who has the most dollars wish us to see. An absolutely terrible situation. He who controls the media, controls the world.

  8. hetty ragdoo wrote on

    the internet is for porn. other then that go outside and plant a garden.

  9. macaulay samson wrote on

    very excellent