Speak up for free and open internet – a brief on net neutrality

Net neutrality is calling on us all to speak up – individuals, organizations, and companies continue to do so. People have already submitted over 10 million comments this most recent round. The power to stand against it, to retain some principles of free and open Internet lies with us.

Here’s a few thoughts and reads on the status of the ongoing debate and what’s at stake (before you head to the comment section of the Federal Communications Commission).

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The “internet of things”, the creator market, the gig economy, and free speech are threatened by the reversal of net neutrality.

I came across a thought-provoking post the other day, elaborating on the difference between IRL and “in-person”. Much of the internet, for better or worse, is real life. So this is a time to acknowledge that the internet is a substantial resource, and that lacking access or reliability from the internet seriously impacts people’s access to educational, physical, health-related, and employment resources for many. Sure, it’s all complicated. But it has enabled entrepreneurship and organizing in solidarity amongst marginalized groups, made long-distance, quality healthcare available through telemedicine – and much of that mobilization and innovation is threatened if net neutrality ceases. So, this debate, and its outcome, will deeply impact our daily lives – we’ve got to act accordingly.

 

The focus in the United States right now is another installment in the back and forth between the FCC and FTC, representing telecommunications and trade of information services.  

Essentially, if you care about accessibility and quality of the Internet – broadband, download and upload speeds, streaming services, privacy – you should consider yourself vested in the “battle for the net” and make it clear that you are pro net-neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai promises that there is little evidence of telecommunications giants and corporate service providers intervening or manipulating the control they have over the openness of the Internet – we disagree. Read up.

The American Civil Liberties Union gets to the point in “What is Net Neutrality?” and this timeline from TechCrunch provides a meatier history. We’ve been at this since the sixties! It’s a reminder that technology develops and evolves exponentially, and we must stay involved.

 

Legislation like this is affecting the privacy and freedom of consumers across the world, and there are steps you can take a more proactive and protected user.

So this bill is called “Restoring Internet Freedom”… and though some may be resigned to Uncle Sam’s eye all up in their Drive, that Orwellian title should beg several questions. We took our questions to Hammy Havoc last year.

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He’s a multi-faceted cypherpunk in the UK, who shared his philosophy and advice in a Q&A covering issues of privacy that he’s studied, observed, and faced head on, as well as the open-source alternatives that we could all utilize. Reach out to us if you’d like to share perspectives from your experience.

 

It’s time to get personal – the most effective comments come from your experience.

As well-put and informative as the drafted comments are, take some time to relate what open internet and consumer protections mean to you – that is, why access to quality Internet should be the norm, in your opinion.

You can send multiple comments, and with personal statements there’s some variety on record and we can guard against disregard on the grounds of automation. Here’s a helpful piece on how to draft a meaningful and effective message to the FCC.

 

It’s easy to spread the word.

And vital. Start with the social media- (and aesthetic-) friendly graphics below, crafted by the folks at battleforthenet.com, where you can post a comment, get more information and guidance in efforts to preserve net neutrality individually and collectively.

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You are not alone, there have been open letters, youtube videos, and even some of the largest web companies and platforms (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Netflix) are on the people’s side, helping to make voices heard. Join in, the site is open for rebuttal comments until August 17th!

 

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