Net Neutrality: You need to know the impacts

KAREN MEYERS

Wellsboro

On June 11, a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) brought net neutrality to an end. Under previous net neutrality rules, internet service providers were required to treat all online customers the same.

Now, for example, this means Comcast could choose to slow down a service like Netflix to make its own streaming video service more competitive.

Or slow down service for non-profits.

In August, Verizon slowed Northern California firefighters’ internet service while they battled what became the state’s largest-ever wildfire.

In late June, volunteers who send out weekly emails for local organizations suddenly found all their mailings returned.

Examples include the Wellsboro Growers Market and the person who mails hundreds of notices for the Boy Scouts.

Gmail, AOL and other ISPs now demand paid business accounts for mailings of as few as 51 newsletters at a time. (They claim this is an anti-spam measure, but the timing is suspicious and paid customers can spam all they like.)

This has necessitated complicated, time consuming workarounds — or spending money — for already overworked volunteers and community service organizations.

California and New Jersey have now passed their own net neutrality laws and New York is considering one.

I wrote Interim state Rep. Clint Owlett asking if he would support such legislation for Pennsylvania.

He replied that a state law of 2008 currently prohibits the Commonwealth from regulating most aspects of internet service.

States do, of course, change laws that no longer serve the public well, but Mr. Owlett did not mention that possibility.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has joined with more than 20 other state attorneys general in suing to overturn the FCC’s repeal of the prior net neutrality rules.

The suit is making its way through the courts.

For now, good luck Pennsylvania firefighters.

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