Last week는 Federal Communications Commission announced plans to dismantle net neutrality, potentially giving internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T free reign to throttle speeds, block websites they don’t like, and carve the internet up into slow and fast lanes.
That nightmare scenario alone should be enough to convince most people that net neutrality is worth saving. But if you’re struggling to convince a friend, neighbor or coworker that the FCC is about to make a huge mistake, here are a few talking point to help you make your argument.
1. “Think of it like cable…”
This is the most relatable way to explain the important of net neutrality. Most people have paid for TV at some point, and understand the way cable providers force you to pay extra for channels you don’t want just to get HBO or follow your favorite sports team.
These new rules could do the same thing to the internet by carving it up into bundles. Love Netflix? You might have to pay extra for a bunch of other streaming services you’re not interested in, too. The same goes for social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you need a visual aid, use this image of internet package options in Portugal. It’s missing a bit of context, but still gets the point across pretty accurately.
2. “The internet should be treated as a utility, just like electricity or water”
You might not physically need the internet to survive, but for most of us it’s become an absolute necessity. We rely on the internet for work, to communicate with family and friends, and to organize our lives.
Putting such an important tool entirely in the hands of companies that care about profits above all else is a dangerous idea. You wouldn’t let the free market decide the price of tap water or electricity without any regulation. So why should we let it decide to fate of the internet?
3. “Net neutrality protects us from online censorship”
A key aspect of current net neutrality laws is that they stop internet providers from blocking websites they disagree with. Removing these laws would open up the internet to all kinds of censorship.
That might mean stifling innovation, like when AT&T tried to block access to Skype, making it impossible for new companies to compete in the future. It could also mean internet providers censoring articles and websites that are critical of them, or that simply compete with their own media properties.
4. “Investments in internet infrastructure have actually gone up since 2015"
The FCC’s new order is a direct response to laws passed by the same government agency in 2015 under the Obama administration. The argument made by current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is that these laws stifle innovation and keep big companies from investing in new internet infrastructure.
However, a report from Free Press found that investments in the internet are actually up since 2015. Internet providers have spent more to expand their networks in the past two years than before. Revenue for these companies also continue to grow, outpacing the U.S. economy.
The argument that net neutrality hurts these companies just doesn’t hold up. If anything, it helps by giving internet providers clear laws to follow.
5. “Net neutrality isn’t even an Obama-era regulation”
This last argument should help if you’re arguing with someone who opposes net neutrality simply because of its connection to Barack Obama. It’s true that the current rules were passed in 2015 under Obama’s guidance, but net neutrality actually dates all the way back to 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush.
The roots of net neutrality can be traced back to North Carolina, where a rural phone company tried to block its customers from an internet calling app called Vonage. The carrier was fined by the FCC for anticompetitive behavior, paving the way for today’s net neutrality laws.
Ajit Pai and Donald Trump aren’t just trying to destroy Obama’s work. Their plan could undo everything good about the free and open internet we’ve all come to depend on.