—Silas Buss, major accounts manager at Verizon, in an email to California's Santa Clara County Fire Department, in July of 2018, after Verizon throttled the department's data during what would become the state's largest-ever fire. In August, the department joined a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission to overturn its repeal of regulations safeguarding net neutrality, arguing that Verizon's interference poses a threat to public safety. Net neutrality means that providers must treat all customers alike, providing data at the same speeds—no matter how much they pay. Proponents argue net neutrality would ensure equal access to the Internet, limit providers' power, and—as a 2017 Nature editorial claims—spur innovation in the process.
A version of this story originally appeared in the December/January 2019 issue of Pacific Standard.