In 2011, the first battle for the net began as activists and others worked to oppose SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act. SOPA was an attempt by Congress to enforce copyright infringement law and wield unprecedented power to shut down domains and sites that they deemed out of compliance. The bill was derailed in 2012, although the cadence of attacks on internet freedoms has quickened and continues to the current debate around net neutrality.
Similar to SOPA, net neutrality is a complicated issue, but can be condensed down to the idea that internet providers must treat all content the same. (For more information on the term itself, Vox Media podcast The Ezra Klein Show has a great long-form interview with Tim Wu, who coined it in 2003.) The FCC under the Obama Administration made some decisions between 2014 and 2016 that worked to implement and protect net neutrality guidelines. And, just like seemingly everything else in American life, the inauguration of Donald Trump means that the freedom of the internet is back under attack.
Donald Trump’s appointed FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, is working to undermine the Obama Administration’s net neutrality regulations under the guise of “free-market capitalism”. Experts say he’s acting disingenuously, and the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has found that the FCC somehow received hundreds of thousands of fake comments in favor of Pai’s decision. Some have even been connected to Russian email addresses. Yet, polling suggests that a majority of the country supports protecting net neutrality. Needless to say, something seems off.
Visit BattlefortheNet.com to see the different ways to get involved and save net neutrality. On Thursday, December 7th, Americans all over the country will gather at Verizon stores to protest Pai’s decision, and demonstrate that we stand in favor of a free and open internet.