On Dec. 14, the way you use internet may change. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Donald Trump's administration will be weighing in on the issue of net neutrality. Whether you're for it or against, here's what you can do to get in touch with your congressperson about net neutrality.
Pause for a second, though. Before you reach out to a member of the Congress, you need to know what exactly net neutrality is. Essentially, net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and others to treat internet content and data equally. No particular content — be it videos, songs, articles, anything — is allowed to get preferential and special status. So, internet users like yourself get to roam the World Wide Web without trouble.
But some people are against net neutrality and don't agree with the idea of ISPs treating all content on an equal basis. Chairman of the commission, Ajit Pai, has spoken against the rules of protection mandated by the Obama-era net neutrality as he believes they "micromanage" the internet. And some think that without net neutrality, there could be healthy competition between content creators online.
Whatever your own position is, getting in touch with a Congress member never hurts. Here are some tips.
1. Ask For A Legislative Aide
Find out who your congressperson is. Websites like Call Your Rep let you put your address in as well as your state to figure out who represents you. Once you do that, you can get a comprehensive list of serving senators and representatives of your district. Take the official phone number of the representative and start dialing.
Once you're in touch with an operator, ask for a legislative aide on the team. This person is, by profession, equipped to listen to you, regardless of your point of view. A legislative aide is the best person to talk to because this individual's job is research, inspect, and draft legislation. Even if they're not present, no big deal. Leave a simple, short, and clear message.
2.Not A Phone Fan? Get Writing
Some of us don't like phone calls. That's OK. You can write a letter to your Congress member after you've jotted their mailing address down from their website.
Be careful about the length. Keep it short, and keep it simple. Congress members are inundated with letters almost every day. If you want to be heard, your message needs to be succinct and to-the-point.
3. Mention You're Talking About FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order
Your Congress member may not exactly be thinking in terms of "net neutrality." This is where you can broaden your vocabulary and tell them that you're calling or writing about FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.
Here's the FCC official document itself just in case you're curious. This can impress your Congress member and show them you're on top of the topic and have your argument ready.
4. Done With Congress Contact? Turn To FCC
If you still want to do more and get heard, you can turn to FCC itself. Say, you support repealing net neutrality or you're not stoked about repealing it at all, it should be made clear to FCC. You can email Pai at firstname.lastname@example.org or give the FCC a call at 888-225-5322. You can also leave messages for FCC commissioners like Mignon Clyburn, Michael O'Rielly, Brendan Carr, and Jessica Rosenworcel.
And that's pretty much it. Phone calls, letters, and educating yourself sound like fairly simple tasks, but they're critical actions. Whether you're a fan of net neutrality or against it, you're ultimately exercising your right to representation by talking to your congresspeople. And that's a big deal.