Net Neutrality and Activism

by Brittany Wortham

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion regarding net neutrality and the effect that its absence could have on internet use. The focus of the debate seems to be on social networking and streaming services, but the consequences of repealing net neutrality rules could be much heavier for grassroots activism.

On December 14th, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) gathered to discuss the topic. Despite the massive public outcry in favor of the network neutrality rules instated in 2015, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal them. Constituents have continued debating over what this means, as many people are still not sure how to define the term.

In short, the principles of network neutrality require that all content on the internet has an equal chance of being seen. Internet service providers can’t charge content creators extra for their data to load faster or be available to a wider audience. This encourages a free-flowing exchange of ideas, which is crucial for a healthy democracy.

The implications this would have for activists are as far reaching as they are apparent. In a system where large corporations and wealthy individuals control the flow of information, there would be little room for dissenting perspectives and more obstacles for organizing. The internet is the final frontier and the rich and powerful are hell bent on conquering it.

The entertainment industry also owes a lot of its growth to net neutrality. In recent years, the internet has provided a platform for artists and performers to share their own forms of dissent, which has led to better coverage of social issues, as well as more diverse representation in entertainment. Without net neutrality, independent artists would be at a disadvantage.

Many activists are already preparing for a world without net neutrality by studying the logistics of local mesh networks and experimenting with alternative forms of communication. In light of the gains made by the rich and powerful to control the political landscape (and therefore legislation concerning communication methods), it seems prudent to stay ahead of the game.

Although the FCC has already made its decision, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress 60 days to overrule it, provided it can gain either presidential approval or support from two-thirds of the House and Senate. Unsurprisingly, Senators John Isakson and David Perdue are currently in support of repealing net neutrality, so Georgia activists are uniting to sway them on the issue.

There are two ways to get involved before the final decision is made regarding net neutrality. The first is to contact Georgia’s Senators. Their contact information is listed below.

Senator John Isakson: (770) 661-0999 (or email him here)

Senator David Perdue: (404) 865-0087 (or email him here)

The second way to make your voice heard on this issue is the join the protest in Atlanta this week. It will take place on December 30th at 1:00pm, at the CNN center. Check out the Facebook event page for more information.