Last week, we ran a cartoon on net neutrality, a topic I was astonished not that many people seemed to know about.
In a sickening turn of events, the Washington D.C. appeals court had ruled in favor of telecommunications companies against the Federal Communications Commission on a legal technicality a few weeks ago.
The decision would allow telecommunications companies to start charging premium prices for more popular websites and purposefully give people slower speeds for others. In other words, they’d be able to discriminate against certain sites and even outright block others.
It’s disheartening to know that the court felt this was the right decision, but then again, the disconnect between government officials and the American public is bizarre.
Thankfully, all is not lost…yet. Democratic lawmakers introduced two bills, one for the Senate and the House, that would protect Internet consumers and companies offering services online until the FCC can fix their rules.
Still, it’s not far-fetched to guess the bill would face a tough battle, given that both parties are split on the issue (of course they are.)
This brings to light another concern, though. What would we, the average citizen, be able to do to show Congress how we feel on the issue?
It’s easier to believe that we can’t make a difference, that money speaks louder than words. But we have a powerful tool: the ability to petition. If a petition can reach 100,000 signatures on the White House website, it will require a response.
The age of the Internet has made it easier to communicate and spread the word. While we can’t practice the right to assembly
physically, we can assemble digitally.
This is a lesson we can apply to other issues too. We don’t have to be cynical or give into despair. It’s hard, but if enough people are informed and aware of things like this, they can make a difference.
We have the right to an open Internet.