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It's critical that nonprofits make their voices heard in favor of Net Neutrality. Read on, or take immediate action.
Traditionally, nonprofits familiar with Net Neutrality have tended to regard it as a "techie" issue that is beyond what any individual nonprofit can meaningfully influence.
It's time to reset our thinking as a community. If we think of the Internet as the air nonprofits must breathe in order to function effectively, then our collective air supply is about to be sharply rationed. "Letting the techies deal with it" is no longer an option.
In April 2017, the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC), under new Trump-appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, drafted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. If this proposal goes forward, it will end the existing regulatory approach popularly known as Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality requires Internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. Put simply, you aren't allowed to pay less if you are a "wholesale" user, and you can't be forced to pay more if you are a "retail" user. The 2015 rules the FCC proposes to overturn require Internet providers to be fair to all customers. Internet providers must also abide by transparency rules to make public disclosures about hidden fees and data caps.
The new rules will allow blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by Internet providers. Providers will be able to give preference to some customers, and slow down or choke off others. In much of the country, Internet providers hold a virtual monopoly on broadband services, and under the new rules, they would be permitted to raise rates dramatically.
To put it very plainly, nonprofits could be forced to pay more to avoid being stuck in the "slow lane" of the Internet.
This is not in the intended spirit of the Internet. It is not in the interests of nonprofits. It is not in the interests of the communities we serve.
It is vitally important the FCC hear from as many nonprofits as possible. Techsoup has submitted a comment that you can read here. Instructions for how to make your voice heard are at the bottom of this blog post. It is critical that the volume (and content) of the comments submitted be sufficient to let the FCC know how many people care about what it is doing and are watching carefully.
Comments from nonprofits can simply focus on how you use and depend on the Internet to conduct your mission and on how slowdowns and increased rate charges would negatively impact your work.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a broad coalition have designated July 12 as a Day of Action. TechSoup will be there and we urge you to participate, too. Together, we still have a chance of changing some FCC minds.
We believe it really is time to care about Net Neutrality. Together, let's make our voices heard!
TechSoup Vice President of Strategic Alliances and General Counsel Sheila Warren leads TechSoup's legal, eligibility, development, and alliances teams. Sheila is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Image 1: TechSoup
Image 2: Sheila Warren
We don't need the federal government micromanaging the internet and messing it up the way it messes up everything it touches. TechSoup should refrain from taking political positions on issues not directly related to its mission. Your opinions do not represent the opinions of your members, which cover a spectrum of political viewpoints.
Learn the history of well intention government meddling: fee.org/.../internet-at-the-speed-of-government
Thank you for being one of the leaders in this fight. We need more organizations like yours to partake.
tomdryan the government isn't micromanaging the internet in fact having internet classified as utility two years ago has kept ISP's from micromanaging the internet and charging customers or companies more for access to specific websites. Guess what the internet has been fine the past 2 years and many sites that support TechSoup by donating software like Microsoft is in favor of net neutrality. You clearly protest TechSoup's stand on net neutrality but it doesn't keep you from sharing your view point and posting a heavily biased article from a libertarian website from 2 years ago where the author clearly doesn't understand what net neutrality is.
Wow ... we don't need this kind of political meddling from a support organization.
As someone who has worked in the internet industry since its inception, the last thing we need is more government involvement. We deregulated the telecom industry in the 80s and got lower prices and better products. Government regulation always kills innovation and turns it into crony capitalism where the big guys rule with their ability to lobby and lawyer up.
By the way, the FCC has no legislative authority to regulate the internet. The US Court of Appeals has ruled so. So if you really want to regulate the internet, you should petition your congressperson, not the FCC.
Sheila appreciate your leadership on this issue. Paying high fees for an LMS platform and offering services and products at reduced rate is important for our nonprofit to reach a population with economic dispairty. Higher fees or lack of attention to the needs of nonprofits it not good business sense at all. Thanks, Yvonne Raffini, Ed.D, NCC, LPC-S Founder, communityintegrated-e.com
We agree with @tomdryan. There is nothing neutral about government intervening under the cloak of making things neutral. They cannot be trusted to make things neutral they are incompetent with technology. Govt can only politicize and remove the public's freedom. Free markets are the only choice for de-politicizing and maximizing choice for customers. At least half of the counties electorate want's net neutrality to go including myself! Techsoup : stay out of politics and stick with your mission.
I am afraid that ending net neutrality is inevitable. Some businesses are already doing it with phony unlimited data plans, throttling residential Cable and DSL lines and on. Any Government control will just result in higher taxes. You can get better data connections in Asia and we buy all their gadgets.
As a professional 'techie' who is informed on the legal and policy background of net neutrality, I'm with SoCallITAlliance, TomDRyan, TimFromNewHope and others. We need TechSoup to stay focused on its mission and not promoting well-intentioned but flawed, misguided initiatives like Net Neutrality.
Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. I did post a comment in favor of maintaining net neutrality. I'm alarmed at the misinformation about the impact of this policy change along with the increasing concentration of ownership of the means by which information is disseminated. Education and equity are central to my organization's mission and I believe your post is relevant to Tech Soup's mission as well.
Thank you for enlightening us about internet neutrality versus internet freedom. The internet is an electronic road which should be available uniformly to all citizens at its best speed, without having to pay a toll. What they are proposing is a toll road available to richest citizens and depriving low socio economic status communities. Good for the maffia as usual.
Great job, Tech Soup. Let's keep our internet access free from control of the rich and the powerful.
Eliminating Net Neutrality means that the government stays out of the internet's business. The internet has been an independent entity for all of its existence (minus that last two years), and because no government has intruded, it works very well.
Internet providers need the flexibility to prioritize some traffic over others for the betterment of all users. A prime example is giving priority for voice and video. Email can survive some delays in delivery, but voice and video cannot. This is called QoS or Quality of Service. Net Neutrality says that internet providers cannot even do this most basic prioritization of services. If one provider starts providing poor service, another will take its place. That is how our free society works. Tech Soup is over its head and out of its area of expertise. They do not understand the technical issues, and they should stop wasting their time in the process. Please stick to doing what you do best, which has been supporting non-profits with great prices from companies that wish to help that community.
I'm with tomdryan, TimfromNewHope, SoCalltAlliance, americansouthern, woodsrl, and others of similar mind. Ms. Warren, I think you clearly do not understand the long-term ramifications. Please take time to read and understand woodsrl's (13 Jul 2017 1:51 PM) post.
My apologies - I can't let it go yet.
One cannot legitimately take a side on Net Neutrality without a reasonable understanding of the technical side. From the perspective of fairness, social responsibility, etc., NN *appears* to be a good thing; from a technical perspective, however, woodsrl's comment re QoS is just the tip of the iceberg. Read (and understand) the regulations before taking a side. I have never encountered a supporter of Net Neutrality who, after learning of its technical ramifications, did not recant their support.
Obvious bonus: follow the money - consider who the biggest supporters of Net Neutrality are. (Hint: "rich and Powerful", LoveOCOC). Follow the money. Follow the money.
Disingenuous is the best description of your argument. What was passed, after the last minute inappropriate intervention of Obama, was a lot more than "net neutrality.' It was much more intrusive and damaging than the then FCC chairman had been proposing. It changed the internet from being essentially permissionless to something where virtually everything required FCC approval--under rules either not written or not clear. The rules changed the regulatory regime that had led to the rapid expansion of the internet. No one suggested actual problems, only maybe possible ones. The result was a slow down in investment and innovation. Rather than the false assertion that if we revert to the rules of the first 30+ years of the internet then cost would go up of we'd get less, othe reverse is much more likely if we stay with the 19th Century rule regime imposed by Obama. Tell the truth.
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