Imagine the following scenario: Your favorite pizza delivery place is a mom and pop local joint, but you have a really hard time ordering pizza from them. That’s because your phone company has an exclusive deal with Pizza Hut. Under the terms of the deal, any calls you make to Pizza Hut will be crystal clear. At the same time, if you call any other pizza shop, your call quality will be awful—it’ll sound like the person on the other end of the line trying to take your order is under water, and the line will be so broken (think: “Can you hear me now?”) that you won’t be able to complete your order over the phone.
Federal law prevents such a scenario by requiring that phone companies provide equal quality service no matter who you are calling, or when, or how long your call lasts. That’s exactly what the net neutrality debate is about. The fundamental question we must settle in this fight is the following: In the 21st century, when nearly every major and minor life action we take requires getting online—from finding love to applying for college to getting the best available job or mortgage—will we guarantee equal access for all? Or will we allow a corporatized, unequal internet, where the amount of money you have dictates your degree of access and your right to speak and be heard?
As Tim Wu wrote back in 2014 in the New Yorker, what’s really at stake in the debate over net neutrality is the character of the country we want to live in.
Today is a national day of action to save the open internet. Join us, and spread the word. Here are three things you can do today:
- Take action via the ACLU.
- Join ACLU experts at 2pm eastern today in a reddit AMA to learn more about net neutrality and its importance for free speech and democracy.
- Tweet using the #NetNeutrality hashtag. Ask people to take action via the ACLU. Then email your friends and family and ask them to act, too.
There’s a lot to worry about these days: the Muslim and refugee ban, healthcare, criminal justice reform, the climate, and more. But if we want to be able to use the internet to the greatest possible effect in all of these struggles and many others, we need to protect it. Take action now.