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In 2017, the Trump Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules and ditched its Title II authority to hold internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon accountable for harming internet users. In taking these steps, the agency ignored the outcry from millions of people across the political spectrum. 

In 2024, the Biden FCC restored these crucial protections and reinstated its Title II authority. This is a huge victory: The agency now has the power to step in when ISPs treat their customers unjustly by blocking or interfering with the free flow of information online. And with the return of Title II, the FCC has the ability to protect internet users from ISPs’ privacy invasions, promote broadband competition and deployment, and take action against hidden junk fees, data caps, billing rip-offs and other exploitative behavior.

We need to do whatever we can to protect this win against any industry attempts to overturn it. Rush a donation today so we can keep fighting.

What is Net Neutrality?

When you go online you have certain expectations. You expect to be connected to whatever website you want. You expect that your cable or phone company is connecting you to all websites, applications and content you choose. You expect to be in control of your internet experience.

When you use the internet you expect Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. Net Neutrality is the way that the internet has always worked.

Some background

In 2015, millions of activists pressured the Obama-era FCC to adopt historic Net Neutrality rules — allowing people to share and access information of their choosing without interference. Those rules were rooted in Title II of the Communications Act — a crucial law that gave the FCC the authority it needed to safeguard the open internet. Title II also gave the agency the authority to protect consumers from ISP abuses and ensure that all people could get connected at just and reasonable rates.

But after the Trump FCC repealed the Net Neutrality rules and abandoned its Title II authority, the internet was in peril. Without this clear authority, the FCC was vastly weakened, having to implore broadband providers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to agree to voluntary and toothless pledges to keep internet users connected — pledges many of these companies failed to uphold at a time when everything from work to health care had shifted online.

Without Net Neutrality, companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon can call all the shots and decide which websites, content and applications succeed.

Without Net Neutrality, these companies can slow down their competitors’ content or block political opinions they disagree with. They can charge extra fees to the few content companies like Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service.

The consequences of this kind of behavior are particularly devastating for communities that media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve. People of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants, Indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the open internet to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight systemic discrimination.

Why is Title II so important?

Title II is the only legal foundation for Net Neutrality that courts have ever upheld.

But Title II does a lot more than protect an open internet. It also gives the FCC the authority to safeguard our online privacy, investigate discriminatory fees and ensure that ISPs are offering just and reasonable rates for their services. Basically, Title II is the legal toolbox the FCC needs to make sure internet access is equitable, affordable and protected from all sorts of ISP abuses.

Why is Net Neutrality so crucial for communities of color?

The open internet allows people of color to tell their own stories and organize for racial justice online. When activists are able to turn out thousands of people in the streets at a moment’s notice, it’s because ISPs aren’t allowed to block their messages or websites.

The mainstream media have long misrepresented, ignored and harmed people of color. And thanks to systemic racism, economic inequality and runaway media consolidation, people of color own just a handful of broadcast stations. The lack of diverse ownership is a big reason why news outlets have gotten away with criminalizing and dehumanizing communities of color.

The open internet allows people of color and other impacted communities to bypass traditional media gatekeepers. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs can block speech and prevent dissident voices from speaking freely online. Without Net Neutrality, people of color are at risk of losing a vital platform.

And without Net Neutrality, millions of small businesses that people of color own won’t be able to compete against larger corporations online, which will deepen economic disparities.

Why is Net Neutrality important for businesses?

Net Neutrality is crucial for small-business owners, startups and entrepreneurs, who rely on the open internet to launch their enterprises, create markets, advertise their products and services, and reach customers. We need the open internet to foster job growth, competition and innovation.

But without Net Neutrality, ISPs can exploit their gatekeeper position and destroy the internet’s fair and level playing field.

What can we do now?

ISPs and their lobbyists and allied lawmakers on Capitol Hill have already started attacking the rules in the courts and halls of Congress. We can’t leave those efforts unanswered. Donate today to ensure our campaigners and policy team can do whatever is needed to fight back.

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