It's game time, people. After months—some might say years—of contentious deliberation, the FCC is moving forward with a set of open internet rules that basically destroys net neutrality as we know it. But it doesn't have to be this way.
The real deliberation begins now. While folks on both sides of the debate have speculated about the specifics of the FCC's plan to regulate the internet once and for all, the actual rules are now out and open for public comment until September 10. This actually presents a complicated proposition to internet-loving Americans. On the one hand, we could sit back and let the big telecom lobbyists work their magic. They have a friend in FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who used to be big telecom lobbyist. On the other hand, you could fight back.
If you care about your internet, pick the other hand. The implications of these FCC rules will reverberate not only throughout the United States but all over the world. Specific issues like the treatment of paid prioritization, which is just a fancy term for internet fast lanes, stand to affect your life online and send shock waves through the economy. Remember how upset everybody got over SOPA? This is more important than SOPA. We should all be angry, and we should all be acting.
We already told you how to yell at the FCC about how much you hate its new net neutrality rules. Here are a few more ways you can fight for freedom right now. And do stay tuned as new efforts to save the free and open web pop up, because they will.
The battle has to start in the armory. In other words, you should spend some time getting to know the awesome folks who've been fighting for the internet for years, because they have all the right weapons for this battle. To name a few: the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Press, MoveOn.org, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Common Cause, and Fight for the Future. Each organization has its own initiatives, but you can start by reading their blogs, signing up for their email lists, and sending them a note. They'd love to hear from you. They'd especially love it if you got involved.
Internet activists have to eat, too. They also have to pay for lawyers and researchers and servers and ads. Free Press has been fighting to preserve net neutrality harder than anyone, and they're currently raising money for an ambitious campaign aptly named, Save the Internet. Though they managed to hit their fundraising goal ahead of the May 15 FCC meeting, Free Press has vowed not to give up until they win. Help them out.
A lot of people are wondering if the FCC will even read the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of comments the public is submitting through its janky web form. While you should still submit a comment of your own, you might consider taking it a stage further and writing letters to Wheeler and the individual commissioners. You can find all of their contact information here.
This is where things get really fun. When you step back and think about it, it's actually absurd that a bunch of unelected officials are deciding something so important as the future of the internet. Long story short, this is possible because Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 invites the FCC to do so. However, Congress can change all that with a little ol' bill—and many think they should. Either way, it's your job as a citizen to get your elected representative involved in this debate, since it affects every single one of their constituents. Here's how to call your congressman or senator as well as a handy form to send them all a prewritten letter. And while you're at it, you might as well give Tom Wheeler a ring, too.
While making a donation or writing a letter seem simplistic, the little things add up. And if you want to do something big like launch a website or stage a rally, you should! Inevitably, if enough Americans stand up and scream, we can strike down the FCC's awful rules for net neutrality. We did it a couple of years ago when we killed SOPA. We can do it again.