Policy Brief - Join the Fight to Save Net Neutrality
On December 14th the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will decide whether or not we will keep our free and fair internet.
What is Net Neutrality?
In 2015, the FCC passed net neutrality regulations classifying Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T as common carriers. Common carriers are similar to utility companies or water companies; the internet is a public good. Currently, carriers are prohibited from speeding up, slowing down or blocking content, applications or websites of consumers.
What happens if we loose Net Neutrality?
A few things.
1. ISPs would no longer be classified as common carriers. Without that classification, they would be free to block content that competes or interferes with the company's bottom line. For example, from 2011 - 2013 AT&T, Sprint and Verizon blocked the usage of Google Wallet because the cohort was developing their own payment app and wanted to stifle competition.
2. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the only Black voice on the five-member FCC, said, “Net neutrality is the First Amendment for the internet.” The beautiful (and daunting) thing about the internet, is that, especially as Black women and survivors, we are able to tell write and control our own narratives, develop content that is for us and by us, network, organize, speak out against white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy and build community. Under current Title II protections of net neutrality, companies cannot block access to content. Without this protection all of us are subject to a violation of our First Amendment right to free speech and a continuation of the systematic silencing and invisibilization of our voices, our voices that are challenging the status quo and most of the time interferes with any capitalistic bottom line.
3. A few large companies would be able to control the market, effectively barring smaller companies (especially those led by Black folks) and innovative disruptive technologies from the internet.
4. Fast and slow lanes would be created. Want to Netflix and chill using Verizon without interruption? There's an extra fee for that. Want to Skype your family in Haiti? Can't do it from the Comcast slow lane, you have to upgrade. Need to do research for a school paper? You can only use certain sites because the fast unlimited lane is too expensive.
We know that any gains that the State and current Administration stand to accomplish if net neutrality is dissolved is going to come at the expense of Black, Indigenous, and Brown folks, especially women - and this is exactly why it is imperative that we fight back.
Take Action Now
Visit gofccyourself.com to leave a comment on the FCC's website urging them to maintain net neutrality.
Call Ajit Pai, the FCC Commissioner (and former counsel to Verizon) and tell him that you support net neutrality and the access to a fair and free internet. (202) 418 – 1000.
Call your senators and representatives using the 5 calls tool https://5calls.org/issue/recXJyxhZ8DWuJzFd
Get involved with Voices for Internet Freedom, a coalition of organizations fighting to protect the digital rights of communities of color.
Check out this NYT Op/Ed by W. Kamau Bell Net Neutrality: Why Artists and Activists Can't Afford to Loose It
Malika Cyril explains the impact of the loss of Net Neutrality to Black communities in FCC's Plan to Repeal Net Neutrality will Silence Black Voices
Watch Tay Zonday break down net neutrality Net Neutrality - Let's Talk