Without Net Neutrality, There Is No Resistance
This post is by Jason Rosenbaum, Director of Technology at the Action Network.
The depth and breadth of activism these days is uplifting and humbling and amazing. People in this country are united as never before in resistance. We are standing up, demanding accountability, participating in democracy, and resisting the Trump administration.
The diversity of the resistance is astounding. We march, we provide legal aid, we protest, we donate, we meet, we organize, we vote, and sometimes we win. The more the merrier — there is no one way to resist. But all of these efforts do have one thing in common: To some degree, large and small, these efforts use the Internet to drive and coordinate activity.
Here at Action Network, we see how the Internet drives the resistance first hand. Our partners, from newer groups like the Women’s March or Swing Left to progressive stalwarts like the AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions and Daily Kos, use the Internet every day to resist. Without it, their reach and effectiveness would be severely limited. The Internet is crucial to more than just the efforts of large groups, though. Everyday grassroots activists use email, Facebook, Twitter, and other services to coordinate, organize, and resist however they can.
Net neutrality means the corporations who provide Internet access — Verizon, Comcast, and the like — must treat the service you pay for something like a public utility. They can’t pick and choose what websites you can visit or charge extra to allow certain organizations to reach you with their messages. Rather, they have to treat everyone equally, delivering any content you ask for when you load a webpage, play a video, or read your email at home or on your phone.
Without net neutrality, websites can be blocked, messages slowed down, or tolls created that must be paid to deliver content you request, all on the whim of these big corporations.
It’s common knowledge that the Internet has irrevocably changed politics in this country. Currently, because net neutrality is the law of the land, the resistance can flourish online, unhindered. And that is why the Trump administration’s efforts to turn control over the Internet to their big business friends is so troubling. If the Trump administration and FCC chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai get their way and dismantle net neutrality, businesses with close ties to the President will be able to block or otherwise interfere with political speech on the Internet. Put simply, if net neutrality dies, the resistance may die with it.
Make no mistake, this affects free speech. Free Press maintains a list of net neutrality violations that occurred before the FCC made net neutrality the law of the land in 2015. These include blocking video calls, blocking streaming video, and redirecting search queries. The companies doing these things are companies with a history of ties to the Trump administration and conservative lawmakers. A world where telecom companies can block services or content on a whim, or force grassroots organizations that make up the backbone of the resistance to pay extra to get their messages out, is a world where the resistance withers and dies.
But it’s not too late. Together, we can resist Trump’s big business agenda at the FCC and defend net neutrality. Today, July 12th, 2017, all over the Internet, a huge and diverse set of organizations from Netflix to Twitter to the ACLU are standing up with Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Demand Progress to fight for the Internet. From the SOPA blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we’ve shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption. Now, we have to do it again!
So make your voice heard at the FCC by writing a letter here. These comments really do matter. They were instrumental in getting net neutrality instated in 2015, and they will become part of the efforts to block its removal, both now and potentially later in court. And after you write, you’ll be able to write your member of Congress and make a phone call as well, as Congress will be crucial to this fight. And the organizers will be in touch with more ways you can help save the Internet.
Without a free and open Internet, there is no resistance. Don’t let Trump and his friends take away the Internet. Once again, it’s time to resist.