Writers Guild of America Supports Obama's Net Neutrality Proposal

Posted on November 11, 2014

The Writers Guild West has come out strongly in favor of President Obama's proposals to preserve net neutrality. The president gave a speech yesterday in which he asked the FCC to reclassify internet broadband wired and wireless services as a telecommunications service under Title II of the U.S. Code.

The reclassification is in response to court rulings on lawsuits brought by major cable companies that are planning to stratify internet service. Consumers who pay additional fees will get to see more websites than those who do not. On the content end of things, cable companies plan to create "fast lanes" for content providers that can pay massive fees. Other sites will be slow to load and hard to reach. This will directly impact what websites consumers can see and will slow traffic to websites that can't afford the additional fees to be in the fast lane. Unless broadband is classified as a utility, the FCC has no power to stop these anti-consumer plans. Broadband is already taxed heavily -- just look at your phone or cable bill each month. This isn't about taxes, it's about freedom for consumers and content providers.

The president has asked the FCC to implement the following four rules into the regulations:

1) No blocking. No Internet Service Provider (ISP) can block a consumer from going to any, legal website, even if the website competes with the ISP.

2) No throttling. No ISP can slow down some content or speed up the content from a website that paid a bigger fee to be in the fast lane.

3) Increased transparency. This rule stops ISP from giving some sites special treatment in the "last mile" of the connection between consumers and the ISP (this is another backdoor trick to create fast and slow lanes.

4) No paid prioritization. No website or streaming service gets stuck in the slow lane because it won't pay a special fee to a service provider. This eliminates Comcast or Time Warner Cable from acting as a gatekeeper as to what content or sites consumers can access quickly and easily.

You can read the president's full statement on net neutrality here. As soon as this statement was released, politicians who receive large donations from cable and telecommunications lobbies screamed that net neutrality would somehow stifle competition, which is absurd.

One of the most ridiculous responses came from Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) who tweeted, "'Net Neutrality'" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government." That response proved that Cruz has no understanding whatsoever of any of the issues involved. If Net Neutrality is not maintained it won't be the government setting the speed of broadband and your access to Netflix, it will be Comcast and Time Warner Cable. If you love your cable company now, just wait until it starts setting fast and slow lanes and determining what content you can access. <

Net Neutrality should not be a partisan issue. The Internet must remain free and open for everyone, including politicians holding disparate views. It is the essence of the medium. Allowing giant corporations to decide what websites you can view at what speed will throw the Internet back to 1996 when AOL did its best to keep members from surfing the rest of web. AOL did everything it could to create a closed web -- an Intranet really -- with the hope of keeping consumers in its sandbox. That plan failed miserably because consumers don't like corporations limiting their choices and options. The AOL of today bears little resemblance to the AOL of 1996.

The Writers Guild of America West immediately issued a statement in support of the proposed new rules supporting Net Neutrality. WGAW President Chris Keyser commended the president for taking an "unequivocal stance on how best to protect the open Internet." He explained, "Reclassification of broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service recognizes that the open Internet works just like the phone lines and will allow the FCC to institute the strong rules the President calls for -- no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency and no paid prioritization." Keyser also said that the proposed new policies will stop "a few online gatekeepers from picking winners and losers and will allow creativity, innovation and free speech to flourish."

So far more than four million people have left comments for the FCC about Net Neutrality, the vast majority of which support Net Neutrality. All the major tech companies and consumer advocate groups support Net Neutrality. At this point the opposition to a free Internet consists of cable and telecommunications companies and politicians who receive campaign funds from them.

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