The world of communication has evolved and we can’t afford to set the clocks back 30 years. We no longer need a media empire to share information for us, we simply need to hit submit, and I for one, don’t want to go back to needing a printing press to distribute info. A fair and open internet is a crucial freedom we can not allow to be sacrificed on the altar of profit.
For the internet to be the voice of the people it must belong to us, all of us. It is not just some entertainment venue where we watch cat videos. It is crucial tool for all of us to organize, spread information, share each other’s stories, grow, learn, and hear from an ever shrinking pool of unbiased information. If we allow the communications giants to dictate what corners of the internet they want us to visit, then the last bastion that elevates the people’s voices will fall.
They will be able to tell you that now it costs extra if you want to visit that website that tells you about Trump’s New Tax Plan. Do you want to hear about the problems with Standardized testing on students? That will be 5 dollars. Oh you want to talk to your activist network? That will be 15 dollars. It’s no wonder that wanna-be dictators from the corporate duopoly want to destroy a free open internet, because if they break that they break our ability to easily speak truth to power. Revoking Net Neutrality will be especially harmful to lower income and marginalized communities. In the future, certain information might only be available to those from higher socio-economic backgrounds and when that is paired with outright attacks on public education that one two punch could be devastating. So we must protect a free internet at all costs, for everyone.
But our activism should not end at just protecting the status quo. We need to be fighting to end the treatment of the internet as a profit based commodity altogether. Information is power, and power should always rest in the hands of the people.The media mergers after the 1994 deregulation have resulted in a ever larger monopolies . We must take back control of delivering information and make sure all content providers are treated equally.
Far too long, Internet Service Providers have been locking communities into hard to break exclusivity contracts. ISPs don’t want competition because it cuts into their profit margins and allows them to lose control of what information you can access. We are essentially being held hostage to the will of a corporation that wants to profit from every bit of data that flows into your home. The internet will become a luxury for the rich, when what is should be is a resource for everyone. So we need to look at cutting the communication giants out of the picture altogether. Community based internet is an idea whose time has come. Why should be we stuck depending on the goodwill of companies who cater to shareholders and not customers to fairly address our internet needs. We shape and create the internet into what it is. It’s our community and we can determine who we want to run the infrastructure.
We have seen the history of things like water and electricity prove that a free market, for profit based solution is not adequate to ensure everyone in every community has access to the same level of crucial services. Even in wealthier communities like New York City internet access is spotty and variable based on community demographics. Meanwhile in towns like Chattanooga Tennessee their community owned internet is providing connections speeds up to 250 times the average. When communities own the infrastructure then the whims of those in the white house, congress, or the CEO chair can’t affect us. Only then can we have the truly free and open internet we all deserve.
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