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Save the Internet!

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Posted on May 5, 2014

Photo by GraciolliDotCom (CC BY 2.0)

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

(Page 3)

Chris Ziegler writing for the Verge hones in on this:

The government is too afraid to say it, but the internet is a utility. The data that flows to your home is just like water and electricity: it’s not a luxury or an option in 2014. The FCC’s original Open Internet rules failed precisely because it was too timid to say that out loud and instead erected rules on a sketchy legal sinkhole that was destined to fail.

In fact there are community broadband networks already that treat the Internet as a public utility rather than a private profit center. This approach puts the public interest first and recognizes the Internet as a public good.

MuniNetworks has a map showing progress being made toward the Internet as a public utility that includes nearly 400 communities:

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- 89 communities with a publicly owned FTTH network reaching most or all of the community.
- 74 communities with a publicly owned cable network reaching most or all of the community.
- Over 180 communities with some publicly owned fiber service available to parts of the community.
- Over 40 communities in 13 states with a publicly owned network offering at least 1 Gigabit services

There is a growing movement to municipalize ownership over the things that are public goods such as energy, water and the Internet. This needs to be made into national Internet policy.

Now Is the Time

Josh Levy, a campaign director at Free Press, writes that this is the time to launch the biggest campaign the FCC has ever seen. He describes how the Internet has become central to our lives:

. . . the Internet is an amazing thing. It’s a crucial driver of free speech, innovation, education, economic growth, creativity and so much more. We wake up with it in the morning. We’re on it all day long. And it’s the last place we go before we finally say good night.

Now that we know the FCC Chair is doing the work of his Internet industry colleagues, the people have to step up and become a firewall against the virus Wheeler wants to release that will threaten to infect the Internet with corporatism and the wealth-based discrimination that it creates.

People are activated, sending hundreds of thousands of emails and petitions and making thousands of phone calls to the FCC.  We’ve begun to see elected officials criticizing Wheeler’s proposal. The media, like The New York Times, is opposing the proposal. The Times wrote: “The Internet has been a boon to the economy and to free speech because it is not divided into tiers and is open to everybody in the same way.”

We have to keep building the opposition to an escalating crescendo for the Commission’s May 15 vote.  This is a defining moment for communication and Freedom of Speech in the 21st Century. It is up to each of us – reading this on the Internet right now – to get involved. As long-time Internet freedom advocate Harold Feld wrote:

There’s a lesson here. YOU CAN’T OUTSOURCE CITIZENSHIP. You can’t let ‘the tech companies’ or even ‘the consumer advocates’ or anyone speak for you. Citizenship carries responsibilities that go beyond the ritual of voting every two years. But when citizens wake up and speak up, and speak to each other, they find — to their surprise — they are strong. They find they have power.’

We have the power to create the Internet we want for the 21st Century. Let’s embrace our power. This is our opportunity.

If you want to get involved in escalating actions in Washington, DC beginning Wednesday, May 7th contact us at info@PopularResistance.org.

Popular Resistance is a weekly review of the activities of the resistance movement. Sign up for the daily news digest of Popular Resistance here.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are organizers of PopularResistance.org; they co-direct It’s Our Economy and co-host Clearing the FOG. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8.


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