Net Neutrality is the principle, and current FCC regulations, that let you a ) get access to The Windy City Times, Advocate.com, Grindr and other LGBTQ content at all and b ) have that access without paying more for that content on top of your current internet access charges.
Net Neutrality says that all information on the Internet must be treated the sameneutrally; that you can't discriminate or charge different prices based on what type of content it is or what that content communicates. That means a video conference can't be treated differently than a web page and an MSNBC page can't be treated different than a FOX page. You pay one fee to access the Internet that doesn't change depending on if you're a Spotify listener or Pandora listener.
I'm sounding the alarm that Dec. 14 the FCC will vote to rollback the current Net Neutrality protections unless Congress intervenes.
Maybe you remember the SOPA blackout day in 2012 or Internet Slowdown Day in 2014. This is the same issue. The big Internet Service Providers ( ISPs ) see killing Net Neutrality as a way to make more money and to impose their values on the rest of us. That's why it keeps coming back up year after year even though the public has already spoken through previous protests and online comments on proposed FCC plans.
We know from history what happens if we lose federal regulation in this area. In 2007 Verizon blocked the pro-choice group NARAL from sending text messages on their network calling them "controversial or unsavory." In 2012, the FCC caught Verizon blocking Google by having them remove 11 Android applications that saved a $20 fee, which violated Verizon's Net Neutrality pledge. There are numerous other examples of ISPs throttling ( slowing down ), intercepting and redirecting, or outright blocking Internet traffic.
The details of the implementation of Net Neutrality are at times esoteric. For instance, in order to be enforceable Net Neutrality has to stay under Title II. However, this is not an inconsequential tech or policy issue. This is not just about your Netflix being slowed down or cut off. This is not just about $30, $50, $100 or more on your internet bill to Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or other internet provider( s ) every month to access the websites you like. It's not just about small businesses, including independent artists, being able to compete on a level playing field. It's not just about a former Verizon lawyer and current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai giving Verizon a big holiday gift.
This is about kids in conservative homes and schools coming out and not being able to find resources or people to talk to or positive affirmations. It's about not being able to get the word out when the community suffers the next hate crime. It's about the fight for a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act ( ENDA ), the fights we've already won and don't want to lose along with all the fights still yet to come.
So yes, I co-organized a protest against Verizon Dec. 7 as one of the 700+ protests nationwide. And yes I flew to Washington, D.C. a few months ago to meet with staff of all three of my Congressional representatives. As a small business owner and a bisexual woman I told them how important Net Neutrality is to me. And yes, I will continue to post on my social media accounts about it and bring it up at holiday parties. This issue is so foundational to my life and our American democratic republic, that if I'm not annoying you then I'm not doing it right.
The internet is the way we as an LGBTQ community mobilize and organize. It's how we fight for equality. Can you imagine if the Internet becomes the next iteration of talk radio? Please take some time to learn more and get involved at BattleForTheNet.com . We have until Dec. 14. In the words of a minority party FCC commissioner who recently wrote an op-ed asking the public for help in keeping Net Neutrality: make a ruckus.
Alison Stanton is a technology entrepreneur and grassroots organizer. As Founder and Chief Problem Solver at Stanton Ventures she makes data accessible, discoverable, and actionable. She loves knitting and using technology to empower audacious ideas.