Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Today let’s talk about net neutrality yet again, since it is up for a vote in the Senate today. Net neutrality is the right to go where you want and do what you want on the internet without your broadband provider getting in the way. It means your broadband provider can’t block websites, throttle services or charge you premiums if you want to reach certain online content. 85% of Americans support net neutrality. 18 million people wrote to the FCC last fall, but in December the FCC withdrew the net neutrality rules anyway. You don’t have to know technology to know that the big service providers have a long history of discriminating against companies and services they don’t like. In 2005, Comcast denied service to p2p customers. For three years, AT&T blocked Skype to throttle competition. In 2011, Metro PCS tried to block all streaming except YouTube. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon blocked Google Wallet. Verizon demanded that Google block tethering apps that would have saved consumers of Verizon phone services money. AT&T tried to restrict access to FaceTime. In 2013, Verizon said the only thing preventing them from giving preferential treatment to some internet companies was net neutrality rules.
Sprint, Verizon and AT&T point to Netflix, YouTube, BitTorrent and others who stream insane exabytes of software, movies and music and ask, why shouldn’t all those services pay for their heavy data streams?
Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, alongside smaller firms and advocacy groups tried to raise awareness to stop FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to hinder net neutrality provisions. But he went ahead last winter and weakened net neutrality anyway, and has now announced that some of the old net neutrality rules will expire on June 11. In other words, that’s the day protections preventing Comcast and Verizon from slowing or blocking your online traffic will end.
Up until now, Mitch McConnell has refused to allow the Senate to take a vote on Net Neutrality. But Senate Democrats have filed what’s called a discharge petition, forcing the full Senate to go on the record today.
This action already has the support of 50 senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and the entire Democratic caucus. John McCain supports it but is unlikely to be in good enough health to cast his vote. One more Republican Senate supporter will guarantee a full vote on Net Neutrality, and a few remain on the fence. If this wins in the Senate vote, the battle quickly shifts to the House. If you want to share your concerns with Senator Cory Gardner, this morning is the time to call or email and make your voice heard.
Update: On Wednesday the Senate voted to pass a measure that would repeal changes to net neutrality rules that were recently adopted by the FCC.