A Pooled Editorial by the Fil-Am Press Club of New York
December 21, 2017
We, the Fil-Am Press Club of New York, oppose the recent repeal of Net Neutrality regulations by the Federal Communications Commission.
Net Neutrality allows for a truly dynamic and equal access and sharing of information on the Internet, whether it is created by big or small websites, regardless of political, racial, or economic backgrounds. We have to maintain Net Neutrality. It is press freedom and democracy at its best.
The accessibility of the Internet is one of the biggest achievements in digital technology whereby small- and medium-sized websites operated by artists, bloggers, media and community organizations, and entrepreneurs have the equal chance to thrive vis-à-vis the existing giant business corporations.
We cannot support this move by the FCC which allows big corporatist interests of regulating traffic or exacting fees, over those of ordinary citizens and the small websites that we represent.
An Affront to Thriving Community Press, Small Businesses, and Immigrant Communities
Smaller websites, such as those administered by some of us in the Fil-Am Press Club of New York, have relied on Net Neutrality to ensure our readers are not shut out from the benefits of a booming Internet age. Once given to the hands of large telecommunications companies to control traffic, economic, political, and cultural information becomes their prerogative.
Knowledge is power and by providing big businesses the capacity to limit access only to their favored websites, the FCC is heavily tilting itself to giant commercial corporations and stifling the small and medium-sized businesses as well as the general public’s curiosity, learning, and innovation.
Access to jobs, education, and entertainment are the direct benefits of an open Internet. Young people will be disproportionately affected by the repeal of Net Neutrality. They will be living and be working with the consequences of this decision for decades to come. Net Neutrality protects communities’ right to equal access to information and to essential services that are increasingly being provided online.
What is the value of Net Neutrality for Small and Big Businesses and Internet Users?
Net Neutrality ensures that all websites are treated equally. It prohibits broadband behemoths, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, from discriminating against smaller websites and dictating what consumers can have access to. In essence, it guarantees a level playing field and prevents service providers from abusing their market position.
The repeal of Net Neutrality now gives Internet services providers so much power, one of them the ability to steer traffic away from smaller websites. Tech companies and consumer advocacy groups fear this along with higher charges that will be slapped on to consumers.
Corporations insist they will not abuse their positions. But the question remains: Why did these broadband companies lobby so hard to eliminate Net Neutrality? It is impossible to believe these companies campaigned so hard against Net Neutrality if they will not make money from it.
One cannot ignore the conflict of interest between current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Verizon, who was a strong advocate against Net Neutrality. From 2001 to 2003, Pai served as Verizon’s Associate General Counsel.
For now, Pai and his Republican cohorts claim Net Neutrality has stifled innovation and investment, but records do not support this. If anything, Net Neutrality has worked to protect consumers from abuses by these service providers.
We urge the public to raise their voices in defense of net neutrality. It is the cornerstone of democracy and free speech on the Internet. It has to be maintained and protected all the time to ensure equal access to information and sharing of ideas and opinions.
Contact your local legislators and let your voices be heard.