Motherboard Vice - January 17, 2017
Local Activism Is the Best Way to Preserve Net Neutrality
Written by Jason Koebler
Before President-elect Donald Trump takes office this week, take a moment to remember the height of the net neutrality battles of 2014 and 2015. Remember the letter writing campaigns, the comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission (some of them handwritten), remember John Oliver’s rant. Remember that the people fought, and the people won, and for a brief moment, big telecom monopolies had at least some limits placed on them by the federal government.
Remember it now, because very likely, the anti-regulation commissioners of the FCC, reporting to an anti-regulation president, are about to undo the rules millions of Americans fought so hard for. Under Trump, big telecom and its sympathizers will call the shots.
“Because we have net neutrality now, those seeds are out there,” Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative, told me. “Our biggest enemy is ignorance, so when things go badly and cable bills go up under Trump, and we have to pay more to access certain sites, people will say ‘Wait a minute, this is a violation of net neutrality.’ We’re in such a better position to fight now.”
If conservatives on Capitol Hill, at the FCC, and in the White House are willing to deregulate the internet and hope that the free market sorts it out, we will likely see small towns and rural areas continue to be ignored with basic infrastructure that’s necessary to live in a technologically advanced society. Mitchell said “the next four years will be worse than I expected them to be,” but said the net neutrality movement continues to march forward.
“In some ways, it’s nice that there’s no more excuses on the side of those promoting telecom interests. Blackburn and the administration will do what AT&T and Comcast want, and I’m guessing it’ll be a disaster,” he said. “I think that leads to our solutions being more politically popular in a few years.”