Net Neutrality

Save Net Neutrality!

This summer a California fire department had serious internet trouble while fighting the largest fire ever recorded in California. Firefighting was affected when the internet data of firefighters was heavily throttled by their ISP Verizon.

These are the facts: Verizon stated the Santa Clara fire department data service plan is slowed once a data threshold is reached. Verizon also said it "made a mistake" in communicating the terms of the plan. Furthermore Verizon admits "We have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations."

If that is truly the case, then this throttling was not specifically a breach of Net Neutrality. But it sure drives home a point about how critical Net Neutrality can be.

ISPs should treat all data on the internet equally. Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents ISPs from treating different types of content (i.e. internet data streams) differently. With Net Neutrality rules ISPs cannot discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

American ISPs have a history of Net Neutrality violations. The best known example of abusing net neutrality is when Comcast throttled Peer-to-Peer Bittorrent streams in 2005.

Once this was discovered the FCC ordered Comcast to stop discriminatory network management practices. After that Comcast started system-wide throttling to slow down heavy Internet users (i.e. throttling regardless of which applications are being using). Comcast has apparently recently stopped this practice.

Net Neutrality rules and enforcement are VITAL to keeping the internet from becoming a PAY-PER-PLAY system such as cable TV. ISPs already charge higher prices for higher bit-rates (i.e the more you use the more you pay). They should not have the power to charge based on what want to do with those bits you download.

The California Assembly has a good chance to reinstate Net Neutrality statewide and provide a model for the rest of the nation.

As expected in the age of fake news, misinformation is being spread, such as in robocalls from Civil Justice Association of California (an AT&T sponsored lobby group).