Tell the FCC: Net Neutrality is (still) crucial to free software
This post was originally published in July, before the end of the first FCC comment period. Now we're highlighting it again before the end of the second comment period, in support of today's Internet Slowdown day of action. Tons of major Web sites (including ours) are coming together today to give a tongue-in-cheek demonstration of what would happen if the FCC caves to Big Cable and guts Net Neutrality.
If you're in the US, please tell decisionmakers how important Net Neutrality is to the free software community (even if you commented in earlier, it will be counted again). If you're not in the US, you'll still find this post interesting -- there is precedent for other countries basing their rules on what happens here.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to be convinced that Net Neutrality is worth saving. The agency has asked members of the public, along with industry leaders and entrepreneurs, to tell it why Internet Service Providers should be banned from traffic discrimination. This comment window is one of the best opportunities we've had to make an impact.
Comments are due Monday, September 15, 2014. Submit your statement in support of Net Neutrality right away using the Electronic Frontier Foundation's free software commenting tool.
Net neutrality, the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally, should be a basic right for Internet users. It's also crucial for free software's continued growth and success. Here's why:
Media distribution giants that use Digital Restrictions Management and proprietary software to control what's on your computer have also been fighting for years to control the network. Without Net Neutrality, DRM-laden materials could be easier to access, while DRM-free competitors could be stuck in the slow lane. Web-based free software projects like GNU MediaGoblin could also suffer the slow treatment while competitors like YouTube shell out big bucks for speedier service. The bottom line--an Internet where the most powerful interests can pay for huge speed advantages could push smaller free software projects right off the map and make it harder for decentralized projects to flourish. That's not good for free software, and it's not good for other innovative voices for change in the digital world.
Activists have worked for years to get to this moment. Over the last several months, things have really heated up--with Internet freedom lovers camping out outside of the FCC, serenading FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler with a special version "Which Side Are You On?" The comments flooding in to the agency have jammed the phones and crashed the FCC's email servers. And yet, Chairman Wheeler still thinks he can get away with ignoring overwhelming public outrage and wrecking the free Internet. We have to keep up our historic momentum in order to convince a cable-industry sympathizer like Chairman Wheeler to listen to the public and protect Net Neutrality.
The deadline for comments is less than a week from now on Monday. Don't delay--comment now!