What You Can Do to Save Net Neutrality

28 Jan 2014

Recently the genealogical community has been dealing with the repercussions of limits to the Social Security Death Index. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about something far more insidious and potentially lethal to the field. A federal court has declared that current Federal Communication Commission rules on net neutrality are not allowed under the law as it exists today.

These rules were set out by the FCC in 2010 to prevent internet service providers from manipulating access to websites. This court ruling will allow your service providers (such as Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) to charge you more to access websites. It will also allow them to prevent you from accessing websites, promoting some businesses over others.

That piece that I wrote, Imagine a World Without Cyndi’s List, FindAGrave, and NEHGS, has proven extremely popular. Michael John Neill wrote a potential future scenario in Slowing Down Until it Just Fades Away. He illustrates how this could impact genealogy, but this isn’t just about genealogy. This is about the entire internet, every website you use.


MJN Net Neutrality


Many of you have written to us asking what you can do to keep this from happening. There are a couple of steps you can take to stop this travesty.

First, contact the FCC. You can send them a letter via USPS to

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington , DC 20554

In addition, if you visit the contact section of the FCC website, you will see additional information. The FCC is run by five commissioners: Chair Thom Wheeler, Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai, and Michael O’Reilly. The email addresses for each of these individuals is available on the website, as well as telephone number for the FCC.

Another thing you can do is to contact your elected representatives. The big internet companies have been hoping for this to happen. One way to keep it from happening is to have laws enacted to stop it. The highest priority is to contact your U.S. Senator and Representative. But don’t stop there, send messages to your governor, and your state legislators as well. USA.gov, the official web portal for the U.S. government, has links to help you contact all of these individuals.

Tell them that you believe in Net Neutrality. Tell them that internet service providers are essential services whose access needs to be guaranteed for all Americans just as telephone companies and cable providers are regulated, to make sure that everyone has access. Ask them to be certain that laws are enacted to make this happen.