We're going to break out of our usual parlance of ogres, wizards, and epic battles to talk about a really important topic: the importance of having an open internet, how it is threatened, what CodeCombat is doing to preserve it, and how you can help.
Why we need an open internet
Having a truly open and neutral internet is vital, especially to education. Having an open internet means:
- people can access any educational resources as fast as any other resources, no matter where they are, who provides them, how bandwidth heavy they are, or whether they’re on their phone or computer.
- people with new ideas about teaching can educate the world with no artificial barriers to entry.
- service providers don’t get to decide which educational content gets delivered fast or slow depending on who they've struck deals with.
We firmly believe that the future of humanity and the world economy depends heavily upon education, and I believe that the future of education depends heavily upon having an open and neutral internet.
Having an open internet isn’t just about being able to stream Netflix as fast as Comcast’s competing service, listen to music as much on services that don’t have a business development relationship with T-Mobile as on those that do, or load CodeCombat as fast as other educational resources provided by companies who’ve partnered with some ISP.
It’s about enabling anyone - from a guy who tutored his cousin over the internet and developed greater aspirations to two guys in a garage - to positively change the world with their ideas, no matter if those ideas compete with internet service providers or competitors who have partnered with them.
Why the open Internet is threatened
The United States has long enjoyed an open and relatively neutral internet. Due to a series of legal decisions, the rules and regulations which enabled it were struck down; a legal vacuum has been left where those foundations once stood. The FCC is proposing a set of rules which, if adopted, would allow ISPs to discriminate against traffic in a "commercially reasonable" way (this is vaguely defined and is basically at will). For instance, they could degrade consumers’ connection to Netflix unless Netflix struck a deal with them. They could slow down access to Skype in the same way or severely degrade access to educational resources from companies they weren’t partnered with. For small startups without the resources to fight traffic discrimination or strike deals with ISPs, net neutrality can be the difference between life and death.
Rather than try and explain the background myself, this article and the John Oliver segment below do a pretty good job.
What CodeCombat is doing
We’ve filed an official comment on the issue with the FCC. We’ve engaged people with this issue, both by word of mouth and in writing. I even met with the FCC Chairman to express my concerns over his proposals.
We’re not the biggest company. We don’t have experience with dealing with Washington politics. We certainly don’t have the time we’d like to devote to this issue. However, every voice makes a difference.
What you can do
No matter who you are or where you are in the world, this issue will affect your future.
Millions have already made their voices known to the FCC and Congress. Instead of calling the FCC, we encourage you to call the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and politely explain why he should urge the FCC to ensure real net neutrality and forbid online discrimination. His office number is (202) 401-3000.
All of our efforts advocating on behalf of an open internet have been organized by the Ammori Group. Thank you Marvin and Lavon for your amazing work.
Thank you to Engine, Stripe, the FCC, and many others for organizing a meeting with the Chairman about these issues.
And thank you to all who’ve made their voice heard on this issue, including other education startups such as Codecademy, General Assembly, and OpenCurriculum.
Please call the Secretary of Education.