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Net neutrality

In November, protesters in New York make their position clear during the last national debate over net neutrality.


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Implementing (or not implementing) the Federal Communications Commission's decision on network neutrality is going to take time as it winds through the country's legal system.

But the latest development is nevertheless welcome.

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) said earlier this week that 40 senators are co-sponsoring a resolution designed to overturn the FCC's decision to void net neutrality rules.

The decision, simply put, gives internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T the legal capability to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit, or charge more for faster speeds.

Why should you care? Do you enjoy any specific sites on the internet? Would you be willing to pay more money in access fees to go to those sites? Are you prepared to have to shop through multiple providers to find how you can best use the internet the way you want?

Because you can do that now, and it's already difficult, between data caps and multiple service plans from providers. That process isn't going to get any easier.

Lobbyists are reportedly making progress toward a repeal. The decision faces many legal challenges, from a tech startup group concerned about potential fallout, and 18 attorneys general around the country. Senators are responding to some kind of grass roots campaign from their constituency.

With all of this vocal opposition, it's impossible to not wonder exactly who supports the decision to end net neutrality, except for the high-profile corporate internet service providers.

Look, maybe the decision, if unreversed, will result in any number of unforeseen benefits for consumers. But if tech start-up organization are opposed to the decision, that disarms at least part of the net neutrality argument, the part that suggests its existence stunts development of benefits to consumers.

Who was complaining about net neutrality before FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rescinded the rule? Apart from Verizon, Comcast and AT&T and their stockholders? That group has the right, of course, to fight for rules beneficial to them. But they also need to point out the benefits for the public at large, which they haven't done yet.

Being enthusiastic about putting the neutrality rule back in place is fine, and Pai should have to face the American public and explain the decision. But the chairman had to back out of the annual CES gadget show in Las Vegas because of death threats. He's also been on the receiving end of racist tweets and death threats.

That's not the right way to make your case.

Do it the right way. Work through the legal and political systems, and remember that American justice often works more at the pace of a glacier than a gazelle. We'll be having this discussion for a while. Let's do it the right way.

Markey and the other senators are starting from the right place. Allow our elected officials to have their voice heard, then we will all have a better grasp of the framework of the discussion.


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