Say goodbye the equality of the internet.
On June 11, the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality regulations went into effect.
Previously, internet service providers (ISPs) were required to offer equal access to all web content. Now, ISPs are allowed to block websites or charge for higher-quality service or specific content. They can also push consumers towards their content and products while potentially slowing down or eliminating access to their competitors’ content and products.
The repeal will also allow ISPs to split internet access into bundles like cable providers do with television programming.
“Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content,” Jessica Rosenworcel, a pro-net neutrality Democratic member of the FCC said in a statement. “They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road.”
What happened?In 2015, the Obama administration passed net neutrality regulations banning ISPs from offering internet fast lanes to companies willing to pay extra to have an edge over their competition. It also prohibited them from blocking sites or slowing down web traffic.
When Donald Trump was elected, his new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, set out to dismantle the regulations. He called for their repeal saying they were heavy-handed, a mistake, and they imposed “utility-style regulations upon the Internet.”
The FCCs departure from upholding net neutrality came after the country’s biggest ISPs spent $23.6 million on lobbying the federal government in 2017.
How are people responding?Since December, more than 65 bills have been introduced to counter the FCC’s decision. Washington and Oregon have already passed rules that mirror the 2015 net neutrality regulations and California passed a bill in its state senate to reestablish net neutrality. But the FCC’s ruling came with a clause that prohibits states from enacting their own net neutrality laws, so the commission will most likely fight state rulings in court.
On the federal level, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of repealing the FCC’s decision through the Congressional Review Act. The vote was primarily down party lines, with John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska breaking with Republican ranks.
The Senate vote will face an uphill battle in the House and will then have to be signed into law by the president. But there is reason to be optimistic. According to a recent Morning Consult Poll, there is bipartisan support for net neutrality which could sway Congress and the president.
Two Republicans in Congress have also introduced bills that would provide some net neutrality restrictions, but they would fall short of a full repeal. In 2017, Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee proposed a bill that would ban ISPs from blocking content, but would still allow for the creation of fast lanes. In May, Senator John Thune of South Dakota said he would introduce a bill that bans paid prioritization while keeping the net neutrality repeal in place.
The FCC’s decision also faces a battle in federal court. Net Neutrality advocates, joined by companies including Etsy and Kickstarter, have sued the FCC, claiming its decision violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA bans federal agencies from arbitrary or capricious decisions. But it’s believed that a decision in the case won’t be reached until at least 2019.
What will the internet look like if nothing happens?Until court battles and legislative attempts play out, there won’t be a huge change to the internet. But ISPs are eyeing a new internet model where they can charge you more or less money to access bundles of websites, like your cable company.
Image in a world where you have basic internet and premium internet. It just may happen.
Your ISPs will also control how fast you can download files and the speed of specific websites while blocking you from accessing specific apps, information, and products.
While this may seem like a doomsday scenario for the internet, ISPs have already been working to block content and apps, censor sites, and increase fees. Now, they’ll have nothing holding them back besides competition from other ISPs.
But according to a study by PCMag, only 30% of U.S. zipcodes have three or more ISPs to choose from.
How to fight backWith the Congressional Review Act coming before the House, here’s an easy way to contact representatives who oppose net neutrality.
You can join more than 2 million people by signing a petition at Change.org.
Place a pop-up ad on your website or blog to lead users to sign a petition, contact their representatives, or file a comment with the FCC.
You can also donate to organizations that are fighting for net neutrality, such as Fight for the Future, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Access Now.
Share image by Free Press / Free Press Action Fund/Flickr.
New Mexico TechWorks is honored to acknowledge some of our interns who attended the May 12th Regional Tech Exchange and who met with the Mayor Alan Weber and other Techleaders from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Espanola, and Los Alamos from left to right: Mary O’Connor, Villanova exchange student from Ireland, and Rebecca Darling, who just graduated from Saint Edwards College in Austin ( Both of whom returned to New Mexico to intern after first visiting as part of a Community Learning Network S.E.E southwest experiential education week-long service learning program, and local interns for our TechHire Santa Fe initiative through the Vista Summer Associates program of the Santa Fe Community Foundation: JC Ramirez, Alexis Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Guthrie.
This week, professional LANL Research Scientist Mark Galassi will lead a 10-hour workshop focused on software development with Python on the GNU/Linux operating system. The camp is free and open to ages 6th grade and up. Participants must commit to all 10 hours. The class will take place at the Santa Fe Library on both Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15. To register contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-629-0759
CSPD Week at the University of New Mexico
Almost 200 hundred teachers attended Computer Science Professional Development (CSPD) week at the University of New Mexico from June 4 to June 8 for training in eight different strands in how to teach computer science from elementary to high school.
CSPD week was joint hosted by the Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New exico and New Mexico Techworks. Beginning at 7.30 AM Monday, teachers from all around New Mexico convened in the University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering.
Code.org, Oracle Academy, Bootstrap and Texas Instruments, Project GUTS, CS Afterschool Arduino, and NM CS for All, taught a curriculum tailored to integrate computer science into math or science classes for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers.
Paige Prescott, president of Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New Mexico, and Dr Christos Christodoulou, dean of University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering, opened CSPD week. Both highlighted the lack of computer science in schools around New Mexico and the need to grow New Mexico’s economy through tech development and computer science.
“Only 40 high schools in New Mexico offer computer science right now,” Prescott said. “This week is aimed to make teachers pioneers of computer science and to increase its offerings in school.”
Professional educators were brought in to teach a specific curriculum for each of the eight strands for five days. The strands focused on different areas and different levels of computer science education. The training focuses on teaching teachers how to integrate computer science into their classes and to increase student engagement with computer science from an early. The long-term goal of this project is to increase the number of students taking computer science classes in high school and in university.
The Air Force Research Laboratory sponsored the STEM Matters Mixer on Thursday June 7 in the Explora children’s museum in Albuquerque. CSPD week aimed to create a network to share information and resources between computer science teachers. This social event was a part of that project to generate a community of interconnected computer science teachers in New Mexico.
“Employers have trouble finding qualified staff members,” said Matthew Fetrow, AFRL’s Technology Engagement Office Director.
Dr Steve Cox, an educator at Northern New Mexico College, engages his students in a mentorship program to teach them how to teach technology. Cox brought four of these students to CSPD week to teach teachers.
“The self-confidence of the students grows when they know they know something that has currency in the world,” Cox said.
“My students know more than I do when it comes to computer science,” said Manuela Klaassen, a teacher at Alamogorda High School. “They help me troubleshoot when we have problems and I help them troubleshoot.”
This is the first year ever in New Mexico in which five computer science classes will count towards math or science credits in high school. Prescott hopes that computer science will one day be a mandatory class for graduation.
The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of New Mexico conducted research on computer science classes in schools around New Mexico. It found that in 2017 less than one per-cent of high school students took a computer science class.
New Mexico TechWorks is a community coalition to support New Mexico Emergent Media and Technologies and implement the White House TechHire initiative. TechHire is a multi-sector effort to give Americans pathways to well-paying technology jobs.