If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s pretty good advice for many situations, and it’s very good advice when it comes to net neutrality rules.
Net neutrality is basically what keeps the internet what it is today, a free-wheeling environment in which internet providers can’t compete with one another by nefarious means, like blocking content from rival companies, or slowing or speeding up speeds or shaping content depending on how much money you pay.
The internet is an open society, you might say, just like the U.S. is supposed to be. But that might not last for long.
The net neutrality rules that protect consumers are facing extinction at the hands of the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Ajit Pai. The idea is to scrap the rules at a meeting on Dec. 14.
If that happens, the internet will be like your cable television service. Pay more for this, pay more for that. Want to watch a film? Pay up. That type of thing.
All of which can be sold as a customer service, as in meeting the needs of the consumer. Except in this case the hogwash is easy to see, because we’ve already got what we need. We’ve already got an open internet that is such a delight you wish more things, like cable television and government, would be more like it.
But this is not what the big companies want. As Ars Technica recently reported, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently criticized his successor, saying Pai “is selling out consumers and entrepreneurs at the behest of major internet service providers.”
Though they’re in the minority, there are members of the FCC who think scrapping net neutrality is a lousy idea. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel wrote: “There is something not right about a few unelected FCC officials making such vast determinations about the future of the internet.”
Her fellow FCC members need to get out from behind their desks, she wrote: “When they do this, they will likely find that, outside of a cadre of high-paid lobbyists and lawyers in Washington, there isn’t a constituency that likes this proposal. In fact, the FCC will probably discover that they have angered the public and caused them to question just whom the agency works for.”
Plenty of people have been weighing in on the plan, as in 22 million. Democratic attorneys general, including Connecticut’s George Jepsen, oppose changing net neutrality rules.
The Connecticut Mirror recently reported that nearly 209,000 Connecticut residents have submitted public comments.
Unfortunately, the commenting process has been tainted by uncertainty about the veracity of comments, as in “corrupted and fraudulent use of American’s identities,” as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman put it.
Doubts over the comments have led some lawmakers to call for a delay to the Dec. 14 vote.
That’s at least something, but what would really work is abandoning the plan.
This is truly one of the worst ideas out there; a money grab by big companies at the expense of consumers. The forces of avarice are strong. See through this ruse and voice your objection before it’s too late.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.