What You Need To Know About The Current State Of Net Neutrality

The fight to keep online freedoms in place isn't over yet. This week, Senate Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, introduced a resolution to undo the FCC's proposed repeal of net neutrality rules.

A brief refresher: Former President Obama put net neutrality rules in place during his tenure in office to prevent internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon, from controlling content online. Without net neutrality, ISPs can put companies who pay more into a fast lane, while slowing the speed at which other, unpaid-for content loads. Big companies might be able to pay for their content to appear quickly, but smaller companies likely wouldn't have the same funds at their disposal. Think of it this way: You'd see a lot more spinning wheels onscreen for the latter.

One concern is that freedom of speech could be jeopardized as a result. "You criticize a political position today, tomorrow your website is mysteriously gone or too slow to access," Denelle Dixon, the Chief Legal and Business Officer at Mozilla, told Refinery29. "With 40% of Americans living in communities where there is no choice in ISPs, these companies will have outsized power in dictating what content is accessible, as well as how and to whom it’s made available. Protecting net neutrality is core to the internet and crucial for people’s jobs and everyday lives."

In December, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality rules, a measure that has drawn widespread backlash from major tech companies, including Sonos and Netflix.

But, as many people predicted, those who feel strongly about protecting net neutrality are using the legal tools at their disposal. In order for Markey's resolution to pass, he and his co-sponsors will need one more confirmed Republican vote within the next 55 days to achieve a majority. If that happens, the Congressional Review Act will move on to the House of Representatives. There, the situation looks more dire, since the House is controlled by Republicans, many of whom are in support of repealing net neutrality regulations. If that happens, the rollback could start as early as April 23. (There are reports of companies already starting to offer plans in anticipation of the rollback.)

Still, if you care about net neutrality – and there are convincing reasons why you should — you can still make your voice heard. Head here and scroll down to "Contact Congress now to show your support for net neutrality." Select your state from the drop-down menu to see which of your senators are opposed to net neutrality (they'll appear in red). Click on any of them to tweet directly and voice your opposition.

"Net neutrality shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it has turned into one in D.C.," Dixon says. "The decision to remove protections for net neutrality is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. We need politicians to protect competition, innovation and user choice online rather than increase the power and dominance of a few ISPs."

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