Does the world sometimes feel like it's going at one speed for the haves and another speed for the have-nots? Do you want to help out, but feel stuck, like a video that's endlessly buffering?
That's why Cracked's running How To Help, a series dedicated to fixing the world's problems until they are all solved and we don't have to write this anymore. Last week we discussed Flint's ongoing water crisis. Today's topic is ...
How To Help Get Back Net Neutrality
Send a letter to Congress via BattleForTheNet, or use their scoreboard to identify and contact your anti-net-neutrality representatives. (Also, here's a handy-dandy video we made if you have no idea what net neutrality is.)
On June 11, 2018, net neutrality was officially declared dead when the Federal Communications Commission, at the behest of Chairman Ajit Pai, successfully repealed previous regulations established during the Obama administration. Without its protections, the ISP industry (mostly Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, the unholy trinity of 240p) can try to introduce user-unfriendly schemes like the dreaded "slow lane, fast lane" internet. But Pai wants you to thank him for obliterating net neutrality (and trolling you about it on YouTube) because it was restricting the "freedom" of the internet and stifling growth and innovation. These are the sentiments of a man who has clearly never enjoyed a rudimentary phone call with his cable company.
But despite all the doom and gloom in the media, people and lawmakers are still fighting every battle they can. As many as 29 states have begun drafting their own measures to keep Big WiFi in check, with Oregon, Vermont, and Washington already having passed their own net neutrality laws. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are currently pushing a bill that doesn't punish net neutrality violations, but gives them the power to name and shame companies that do so, forcing transparency. Meanwhile, in California, a proposal is on the table that actually exceeds Obama-era net neutrality regulations in scope and severity, aiming to outright ban certain dodgy practices.
And while supporting your local lawmakers in sticking it to the FCC is important, the most effective way to protect the internet is still through Congress. That's going to be tough, seeing as how in the year of net neutrality's repeal, the ISP industry lined lawmakers' pockets to the tune of $101 million. The FCC's plan is such an unpopular move that more people probably were in favor of canceling Firefly than net neutrality. Seriously, basically nobody wants this -- only the grey-haired, Metamucil-eating desiccated pharaohs in charge, who'll gladly sell out the internet because they have no damn clue how it works anyway.
With the upcoming midterm elections in mind, Democrats are doubling down on getting net neutrality reinstated. In May, Senate Democrats managed to pass a resolution that would allow Congress to "revisit -- and reject" the repeal. But this momentum has sputtered out in the House, after Democratic representatives didn't have nearly enough signatures to force a vote, even after getting as much as one single Republican on their side.
So what's the answer? Keep screaming into the stony ears of the weathered gargoyles who govern us. And when the midterm elections come, the best thing to do for net neutrality is to vote. If you vote Democrat, rally around your local NPR-listening dingus and tell them to hold onto their jiggly spines. If you vote Republican, then get a better Republican, or try shouting at the one you're stuck with until they start caring more about what their voters want than what AT&T does. Don't vote? Start freaking voting already. If you don't let them know, you're risking a future in which the wild and wonderful web as we know it will no longer exist, and we'll all have to go back to the bad old days of having bootleg anime described to us over the telegraph.
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