Above photo: FCC Chair Tom Wheeler meets with Occupy the FCC activists in May.
Right now, the future of the Internet is at a dangerous crossroads. Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler has proposed a set of rules that will allow giant telecoms like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to create a tiered Internet. If this proposal proceeds, we could see the Internet become like cable TV in which access and quality depend on which package you purchase and how much money you can spend. It will also open the door to lawsuits that could weaken access to the Internet further.
But, we also have a tremendous opportunity. Because of the quick actions taken by hundreds of thousands of people telling the FCC to save the Internet after the proposed rules were leaked, the people’s choice was also put on the table. That choice is reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier, known as Title II, so that the FCC has the power to regulate the Internet in the public interest. If the Internet is reclassified, we can push further to demand that Net Neutrality (which means equal access to content on the Internet) be the law and be enforceable.
Now that reclassification is on the table, our work is to make sure that Chair Tom Wheeler sides with the people instead of the giant telecoms that he used to represent as head of their lobbying arm. We are in a public comment period until July 15.
Here are 2 things that you can do:
1. Submit a public comment to the FCC telling them to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II and to codify net neutrality into law with enforcement mechanisms. Submit your comment to the FCC here (the proceeding number is 14-28). At the end of this article, “What Next in the Campaign to Save the Internet?”, is suggested language you can cut and paste as your comment to the FCC on their Open Internet Rules (Proceeding Number 14-28). You can also submit them via email: [email protected].
2. Join the weekly actions throughout the month of June to raise awareness and to put pressure on the FCC. Every Monday afternoon from 4:30 to 6 pm, we will be at the FCC in Washington, DC at 12th Street and Maine Ave., SW flyering the employees.
If you can’t make it to DC,you can still take action at home:
• Organize an action at one of the regional FCC offices. You will find the locations by clicking here.
• Organize a visibility action in a highly-trafficked area in your community by holding signs and passing out flyers that tell people why and how to submit a public comment.
• Organize a teach-in on net neutrality or an opportunity for people to discuss the importance of an open and equal Internet and follow these by providing computers so that people can submit their comments to the FCC at the event.
And on Tuesday, July 1, we will be at the FCC at noon for a picket and street theater performance of “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” It’s going to be a lot of fun with singing, dancing and a tug of war between the people and the telecom giants. If you can join us, contact [email protected] to RSVP or just show up.
The Internet is our free speech in the 21st century. It is where we educate and communicate with each other. It’s where we share ideas, collaborate and innovate. It’s where we get our news, touch base with our family and friends, shop and sign up for services. Right now, the Internet does not allow discrimination – anyone who logs on has the same access as everyone else.
Can you imagine a world in which an equal Internet no longer exists? It will harm people who are marginalized the most as they lose access to information. It will harm the growing and vibrant people’s media. And it will harm our ability to organize for justice.
Don’t let Internet equality be a thing of the past. Take action now!