It’s officially been one year since the repeal of Net Neutrality rules protecting our rights online formally went into effect. According to FCC Chairman Pai, Internet users in America should feel freer now that corporate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are free to block lawful content, slow down speeds unnecessarily, and prioritize certain content no matter the consequence or harm it brings to businesses and users’ consumers. So, do you?
Chances are, you don’t. It’s more likely you’re one of the millions of Americans who have called, petitioned, and rallied since June 11, 2018 for our digital rights online. For many, particularly communities of color and people living on low incomes, the Internet has acted as a strong counterbalance to traditional cultural and economic gatekeepers. Don’t see accurate depictions of your community greenlit by Big Cable? Pick up your (phone) camera and share a vlog about your real experiences. Need extra income to supplement stalled wages and ever increasing rent hikes? Start a business online to make extra income without the overhead of a brick and mortar establishment. Powerful movements like #NoDAPL, #BlackLivesMatter, and #MeToo are documenting the stories and movements of historically marginalized people online and creating change in offline on a scale unseen before. The Internet is our digital public square where, for nearly 3 decades, internet users have spoken truth to power, built digital market places, and created community all without waiting for permission.
But the repeal of Net Neutrality put that all at risk. People accessing the Internet don’t want to be nickeled and dimed for access to our own digital public square, and more importantly, we can’t afford to be. The United States already consistently ranks as one of the most costly countries in the world to purchase Internet and we can only expect those costs to increase as corporate ISPs, feeling the coast is clear, begin introducing paid prioritization schemes that leave our communities disconnected and throttled into silence.
Internet users in the U.S. know, even if Chairman Pai doesn’t, that the repeal of net neutrality puts our digital civil rights in jeopardy. That’s why, with enormous grassroots pressure, we were able to pass the Save the Internet Act through the House of Representatives. Today that Act waits to be voted on in the Senate, held hostage by the political whims of the Republican Majority Leader. But too much hangs in the balance for our communities to watch from the sidelines. So we’re going to keep fighting for an Internet that is affordable, equitable, and secure for all.
Continue fighting with Team #MediaJustice by signing our petition to demand action in the Senate to win an open, affordable and equitable Internet.