Why Abortion Rights Activists are Fighting for Net Neutrality

NARAL
NARAL
Jul 11, 2017 · 3 min read

UPDATE: As of Monday, June 11th, the FCC’s appalling repeal of net neutrality has officially gone into effect.

Starting right now, there is nothing legally preventing internet services providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from throttling web traffic, from blocking websites, slowing down apps and streaming services, or charging you outlandish new fees just to access online content. The rules may be gone but the fight isn’t over.

Congress can still overrule FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and save the free and open Internet. We already won a net neutrality vote in the Senate —but now we need the House to move. Time is running out to make them do it, so please contact your House reps NOW.

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Imagine a world where a woman searches the internet but can find no information on how to access an abortion. Imagine searching the internet but finding no reproductive healthcare provider lists or contact information. Imagine trying to call your representative, but you can’t get through, because the phone company is being paid to limit the number of phone calls to Congress.

In 2007, we experienced this firsthand, when Verizon Wireless cut off access to our text-messaging program we used to organize and mobilize our members. They reversed its censorship after widespread public outrage, but if net neutrality is gone, this could happen to us — and other community organizers, activists, and organizations across the country — again.

When we think of 21st century democracy, the words “net neutrality” might not come immediately to mind — but they should. Net neutrality is the guiding belief that all data on the internet will be regulated in the same way; keeping access for all users the same no matter what. It’s the foundation of an open and free internet, and because of it, we are able to build a more just world through equal access, innovation, and freedom of speech online.

A world without net neutrality is a world where internet service providers can censor our communications or create “fast” lanes for sites they would rather you visit. As a result, alternative and independent voices from women, communities of color, and LGBTQ+ folks could be relegated to the “slow” line.

Net neutrality is the reason we are able to experience any online content diversity and a level of equality online. Without net neutrality, the feminist movement, Black liberation movements and movements to protect our environment would have to pass through Big Telecom gatekeeping before they could reach audiences with their messages and calls-to-action.

We use it so often, that it’s easy to often forget how important the open and free internet is to all of us. A lack of net neutrality would prove devastating for progressive organizers, activists, and for our right to access vital, accurate reproductive health information. Without net neutrality, internet providers could control what we see and do online, giving wealthy, conservative anti-choice groups the upper hand. We cannot let them get the upper hand — and that’s why we’re working to stop them before they even have the opportunity.

The free and open internet is how we connect with one another every single day, and it’s proven to be a great equalizing force — particularly for those in marginalized communities, which use the internet as a platform to speak for themselves. This issue is much bigger than just one organization and impacts millions of lives. We’re proud to join forces with the ACLU, DailyKos, MoveOn, Women’s March, Fight for the Future, Free Press and so many others to ensure that our demands are not ignored.

Sign the petition: tell the FCC and Congress that we demand an open and free internet.

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