ONE system crash and nearly 1.1 million comments later, the Federal Communications Commission should get the message: Many Americans strongly oppose proposed regulations that would create two lanes on the Internet highway — fast or slow. Providers would be able to sell faster connectivity to companies that can afford to pay premium prices.
Keep the Internet open. Preserve net neutrality, which is based on the value that everyone should have the same access to the Internet — and information should flow to all at equal speed.
Should regulators follow through with plans to build a fast lane, too many people who work in the digital space would be hard-pressed to compete against tech giants such as Facebook, Netflix and Amazon.com, which can afford paying to get content to users faster.
Think of all the innovation, ideas and opinions that might be stifled under this pay-to-play scheme. Startups, nonprofits and small businesses would lose. Comcast and Verizon would reap the profits without much incentive to improve customer service.
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Instead of considering a two-tiered system, the FCC should reclassify broadband Internet as a public telecommunications service. This is the best way to protect consumers from the whims of profit-driven corporations, which have immense power to determine the content Americans read, watch and hear online.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler should listen closely to President Obama, who recently stated he does not “want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users. You want to leave it open so that the next Google or the next Facebook can succeed.”
If the FCC is to promote truly the free flow of ideas in American society, it must also use a separate quadrennial review process currently under way to stop big media conglomerates from gobbling up local television stations and newspapers — reducing staffs and diversity of viewpoints along the way.
Citizens should keep up the pressure on regulators to protect net neutrality. The next comment period ends Sept. 15. Make your voice heard.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).