Listen up, troops!

Instead of guest art this week, we’re going to talk about a subject that is as important as it is boring: net neutrality. If you don’t feel like reading, here’s the short version:

The free and open internet is in trouble. To help save it, follow the directions at the bottom of this post!

If the FCC repeals net neutrality rules next month, it could end the internet as you know it today. It could even mean that sites like this one could disappear. And that’s not even the worst of it.

Obviously, no one knows exactly what will happen if net neutrality rules are repealed. ISPs like Comcast and Verizon insist that they have no intention of taking advantage of the rules change in any negative way. And yet, they’ve been lobbying for the repeal of these rules for years, and there are multiple examples of them breaking the rules already.

At the very least, we can expect that our internet access will become slower and more expensive. One likely scenario (and one that has been seen in other countries) is that ISPs will create packages of websites and services, similar to how cable companies bundle channels. You could buy packages for social media, streaming services, or gaming, but if you want to do something that you don’t have a package for, your access would be limited or slowed. Another possibility is that web site operators would have to pay the ISPs to enable users to reach them, or at least to reach them at decent speeds. Small sites, like, say, independent web comics, might not be able to afford the fees.

All this sounds terrible, but there are much more insidious possibilities as well. Without net neutrality rules, ISPs could control what news you saw. They could easily block websites that were critical of them, or that espoused political views that they didn’t like. They could even sway our elections. And it’s not just websites; emails, and even phone conversations could be censored!

Granted, some of these scenarios may not be likely, but they are possible. Repealing net neutrality rules would help no one except the ISPs, and the rest of us can look forward to an internet that is more expensive and more frustrating, at the very least. But it’s not too late to do something. The FCC will be voting on the proposed rules changes next month. In the meantime, you can weigh in on the subject.

What can you do?

First, you can provide feedback to the FCC on the proposed rules changes. This page gives simple, step-by-step instructions.

Second, contact your senators and representatives. Tell them to block these rules changes. Contact them via phone and email. Be patient, be polite, but be very firm in your insistence that net neutrality must be protected!

Listen, we hate to take time out from the comic to talk about this stuff, but it’s important! We have all come to rely on the internet for so much, and now this vital tool is being threatened. Don’t let giant, faceless corporations decide what you get to do on the internet, and to gouge you for the things they let you do!