WITNESS joins Battle for the Net on July 12th

This Wednesday, July 12th, WITNESS will participate in the internet-wide “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality”. WITNESS is partnering with Battle for the Net and thousands of other organizations, internet users, and companies concerned with the preservation of a free and open internet.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality” is the concept that internet service providers should allow full access to all internet content, applications, and services, regardless of the source. Essentially, net neutrality ensures that service providers cannot serve their own interests by controlling access to specific products or websites.

Why is net neutrality important?

In 2015, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of strong net neutrality rules that explicitly prohibit service providers from utilizing “fast lanes” for favored sites that can afford to pay for faster service, and “slow lanes” for everyone else. Under these current FCC regulations, “your service provider can’t slow your Amazon Prime Video stream to a crawl so you’ll keep your Comcast cable plan, and your mobile carrier can’t stop you from using Microsoft’s Skype instead of your own Verizon cell phone minutes”.

However, the largest service providers in the US (Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) are currently lobbying the FCC and Congress to end net neutrality regulations.

President Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supports the large service providers seeking to end net neutrality. This past April, Chairman Pai announced a sweeping plan to roll back current net neutrality standards. If the federal government enacts these policies, sites will be forced to pay big cable in order to remain relevant, and entities who are unable to pay the price will fall to the wayside. The internet would effectively serve the bottom line of massive telecommunications companies.

What are the global impacts of US net neutrality?

The fight for net neutrality is not exclusive to the United States. The internet serves as a global platform to connect communities, innovators, artists, activists, and others. For WITNESS and other human rights organizations, the internet allows communication with activists regardless of their location. WITNESS depends on a free internet to provide resources and support to people advocating for their most basic human rights.

In 2015, when the US first made steps to pass net neutrality rules, the impact was felt on a global level; the EU subsequently passed similar net neutrality legislation amidst growing understanding that net neutrality should be a prioritized for all nations.

The United States is a leader in terms of net neutrality, serving as an example for governments considering similar protections. If net neutrality regulations in the United States are thrown out, the global trend toward net neutrality would be severely and negatively impacted .

Without net neutrality, internet users — whether they be human rights nonprofits, large companies, or individuals –will no longer have access to the free and full internet so crucial to their work.

What can we do?

Join the protest on July 12th, when the internet will come together to stop the FCC from rolling back net neutrality and to keep the internet free of blocking, censorship, and extra fees. Write letters to your representatives and the FCC, share resources on social media, display an alert on your homepage — Battle for the Net has provided the tools you need to take action and help save the internet. Learn more here!

Further Reading and Resources:

What Net Neutrality Rules Say

Net Neutrality, Public Knowledge

Net Neutrality Day of Action: Here’s Why it Matters

Why Net Neutrality Matters Even In the Age of Oligopoly


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