I let July 12 sneak up on me. I meant to do more to get ready for the Net Neutrality protest but today is July 12 and I hadn’t mentioned it to my friends or even brought it up at the Democratic Committee meeting last night. Part of the reason – but only part – is none of my family or friends are talking about Net Neutrality. I don’t see much about it on my Facebook feed. Net Neutrality is way in the back of people’s minds and a lot of folks aren’t even sure what stand they should take on this issue. Right now we’re obsessed with Junior’s collusion with Russia to dig up dirt on Clinton.
For those who aren’t ready to jump on the left side of every issue, Net Neutrality might seem like just another case of Liberals asking government to step in and regulate something which might better be guided by the invisible hand of the free market. I understand that argument. I think we on the Left generally want too much regulation and before the Right went insane, they provided a rational voice of opposition to our excesses. There’s nothing wrong with having someone say, “Don’t you think you’re spending too much money on this issue?”, or “Don’t you think those folks would be better off solving their own problems?”, or “All those regulations are going to make it too hard for people to do what you expect them to do.”
But that rational voice of opposition has gone rabid. And without that rational voice, people on the Left should occasionally ask themselves, “Is this something that requires more government regulation?”, and we need to train ourselves to say “No” more often than we currently do. But when our primary source of information is in danger of being overtaken by corporate interests who would be in control of what news and opinions we get to hear, then we should fight to keep that from happening. I believe our Founding Fathers would agree.
Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gave the Federal government the power to establish post offices and post roads. Early on, the leaders who shaped our nation knew that the government had a role in ensuring that the people had fair access to information. That role still exists now that the Internet has become our primary postal route. Allowing corporations such as Comcast or Verizon to throttle the route for some sources of information while keeping it wide open for others would be in violation, at least in spirit, of the guarantee of free flow of information that the framers wrote into the Constitution.
If corporations control our information, they can control us. We can’t protest abuses of power if we don’t know about them. We can’t organize if we can’t communicate. We’re about to cede control of our information to the companies that own the routes through which that information flows.
Imagine not being able to access the Washington Post or the New York times to learn that Donald Trump Jr was told, in an email, that he would be meeting a “Russian government attorney” to provide dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”. Imagine not being able to read how Republicans are “Taking a sledgehammer to Medicaid” .
This is why we have a 1st Amendment. If we lose fair access to information, we lose one of the most fundamental aspects of a free society. Let’s not let that happen. It’s easy to let the Net Neutrality issue slip by. It’s wonky and technical and hard to directly equite to such issues as health care, voter suppression, the environment, or war. But it’s central to all of those issues.
So do me a favor. I’m feeling pretty guilty for not doing more up until now. Go to www.BattleForTheNet.com and sign the petition.
Update (7/13): Comcast says they support Net Neutrality, but not “reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II”. The verge says Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T want Congress to make a net neutrality law [ as opposed to regulation ] because they will write it.