A blog post from Jordan Carter, Chief Executive at InternetNZ
13 July 2017
Today's a day to act in support of a fundamental element of the open Internet.
When Donald Trump became American president in January, one of the interesting Internet policy debates that kicked on running was about net neutrality.
Today in the US (12 July) a wide range of groups are speaking up against plans by the US communications regulator (the FCC) to weaken and remove regulatory protections for the free and open Internet that were imposed a couple of years ago.
Why should you care?
It may seem far-fetched or strange to ask you to add your voice to an American policy issue. Here's why it matters.
So much of the core Internet technologies and services we use every day are either based in the US or were developed there.
It is the freedom and openness of the network that has helped spur the huge array of choices we all have today.
If things change in America that weaken that openness, there will be an effect on us all. It might not be quick or obvious, but it will come over time: fewer new services, greater comfort for incumbents.
No next Netflix? No next Twitter?
Here's what to do - act today!
To act, check out one of these sites for more information and to help you share your view with the FCC.
You can share your support on social media with the hashtag #NetNeutrality
What is net neutrality? It's the idea that your Internet service provider (ISP) shouldn't make choices for you about which services you get faster or slower - or they shouldn't charge platforms and content people for faster / better access to you as a customer.
Why is this big in the United States? The US ISP market is unique. Big cable companies often own the only broadband network in an area (usually cable rather than fibre). They don't open their networks to other ISPs, and they have been buying content - movie studios for example. They try and bundle the products together and exclude competitors by making other services run worse.
What has Trump done? The open Internet rules of 2015 tackled this challenge by mandating network neutrality. Trump's new chair of the FCC is trying to ditch those rules - as the big network types have been asking for. That would let discrimination happen, with the downsides I mentioned above.
Is this a problem in New Zealand? Not so much at the moment. The first big risk we saw was the proposed Sky/Vodafone deal, which would for the first time have seen a big content/network merger. Still, with Chorus in New Zealand not allowed to be a retail ISP, we have protections from the worst US risks. That's why it hasn't been such a big deal here.
What has InternetNZ's stance been? We have always supported an open and free Internet for the innovation it brings. We've raised network neutrality in the course of reviews of communications policy for over a decade. We helped raise network neutrality concerns in the Sky/Vodafone merger. We keep an eagle eye on this issue and will speak out whenever we have concerns.
If you'd like to know more or discuss the issue, I look forward to hearing from you.