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The Trump FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal takes effect today, meaning that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon now have the right to block, slow down or otherwise interfere with any online traffic — including any political speech they disagree with.

You won’t notice any bad behavior on their part right away the big broadband providers are too sneaky for that. But over time we’ll see a return to the kinds of violations that were commonplace before the 2015 open-internet rules were enacted.

Those greatest hits include Comcast blocking file-sharing applications like BitTorrent, AT&T forcing Apple to block Skype on the iPhone, Verizon Wireless blocking people from using tethering apps on their phones, and AT&T disabling FaceTime unless customers agreed to subscribe to pricier text-and-voice plans.

These same companies rejoiced when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues overturned the Net Neutrality rules last December, but they should pause before pouring themselves a glass of bubbly.

In May the Senate passed a Congressional Review Act resolution that would restore the rules, with three Republicans joining Democrats and independents in the 5247 vote. A companion bill is now moving through the House, where more than 175 representatives have expressed support for the CRA. But we need 218 lawmakers to sign a discharge petition that will bring the CRA up for a vote.

In that spirit we’ve written an open letter to House members. Call on your rep to stand with the people, not companies intent on violating our digital civil rights.

Our letter appears here and below:

Dear U.S. House of Representatives:

We’re at a critical turning point in the future of the internet. To the best of our knowledge:

  1. None of you own a cable or phone company.

  2. All of you use the internet.

So what comes next should be pretty easy. We’re calling on you to assert your courage, decency and basic awareness of the will of the people who elected you to office by signing on to the Net Neutrality resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

This resolution is clearly the will of the people.

Not big cable. Not big telecom. Not their lobbyists.

Reversing the Federal Communications Commission vote on Net Neutrality is what we — the millions of people who rely on unfettered access to online health care, employment, education, community, civic engagement and so much more — all want.

In case it’s not clear that when we say all we really mean all, consider this: More than 86 percent of people in the United States said in 2018 that they support keeping the rules — including 82 percent of Republicans.

Nearly 83 percent of voters who self-identified as “very conservative” said they were concerned about the possibility of ISPs having the power to “influence content” online.

Nearly 7,000 small-business owners signed and delivered a letter expressing support for the CRA to congressional district offices across the country.

More than 50 racial-justice and civil-rights groups wrote the House urging your support for the CRA because the loss of Net Neutrality protections would disproportionately harm communities of color.

120 mayors of cities large and small have signed the Cities Open Internet Pledge, vowing that they will refuse to do business with any internet providers that violate Net Neutrality.

More than 800 tech startups from all 50 states expressed support for the CRA. Sir Tim Berners-Lee — the inventor of the World Wide Web — has called on Congress to restore the open-internet protections.

This issue has united people from every part of the cultural, political, economic and technological spectrum.

Nonetheless, the FCC is determined to make it legal for telecom companies to abuse our digital civil rights and act as the editors of the internet, picking and choosing what information we can and cannot see, deciding which voices are heard.

The FCC chairman has neglected his duty to the people in so many ways. He failed to convene public hearings on the matter. He ignored rampant corruption in the proceedings, including the millions of fake comments posted to his agency’s public docket.

Chairman Ajit Pai is content to stand on the wrong side of history — alongside his former employers at Verizon.

In the words of one activist, “The FCC doesn’t even seem to be pretending that it’s acting on behalf of the public.”

What about you? Will you act on our behalf?

Are you on Team Internet and in support of the CRA?

Or are you with Team Cable and against the online rights of your constituents?

We demand to know where you stand on the current Net Neutrality CRA, a resolution that would reverse the unscrupulous FCC vote and restore the strong legal foundation and enforcement for these rules.

And please: Don’t insult our intelligence by embracing toothless alternative proposals and sham legislation written by cable lobbyists.

This is the most important vote in the history of the internet, which is the most important innovation of the last century. This is an opportunity to cement your legacy.

We won’t stop until the Net Neutrality protections are restored in full. And we’ll make sure that all of our friends remember your support for the CRA — or lack thereof — on Election Day this November.


The People of the Internet

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