Of the many crises and opportunities that seem to pop up every day — the one that has me worried is the current FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s plan to kowtow to big business and throttle back access to the internet on Dec. 14, abolishing the net neutrality provisions enacted by the Obama administration.
The internet was created through substantial funding by the United States government, and, therefore, us, the taxpayers. Now we are being told the FCC finds it necessary, in order to appease the companies that provide access to the internet, that those same companies should control speed of access or even block content that they may not agree with or have no financial interest in its sale.
Rolling back net neutrality is not a partisan issue. It is an attack on our freedom — freedom to have equal access once connected to the internet, regardless of our financial or social standing in the world.
This is not just about Netflix and unfettered access to Twitter and Facebook, it is about businesses being restricted from connecting to the markets where they operate. The loss of net neutrality, as outlined by the FCC rule change, would allow those controlling access (internet service providers and other sites) to increase speeds and availability to those who pay more for faster downloads and, on the flip side, restrict or block access to those who don’t pay for it.
The impact this will have on schools, hospitals, libraries and other publicly-funded entities would cripple many of those organizations, both financially as well as the free exchange of ideas. I have led nonprofits, developed municipal budgets and run my own company in a rural community. I know the impact these additional fees and lack of free movement will have on all of those institutions.
This move is the exact opposite of what the free market dictates. We don’t need a change and the heavy hand of government to impose restrictions that have never been needed in the past, especially when it increases profits for corporations that have the largest megaphone in Washington.
Maine’s current Congressman is typically silent on this issue. He has voted against net neutrality in the past, and I expect he will again.
This must be stopped. It is up to the public to make their voices heard.
Craig Olson and his wife own and operate the rare book shop Artisan Books & Bindery in Islesboro.