by Kat Barr
Right now, the Internet is a free, open resource for all Americans. But in backrooms in Washington, Verizon, AT&T, and other telecom companies are lobbying hard to change that.
Just when it looked like the Federal Communications Commission would officially protect Net Neutrality — the core principle that the Internet should be open to all — phone and cable companies swooped in to try and negotiate a backroom deal that would undercut it. And they’re gaining steam: 74 Congressional Democrats are siding with the telecoms to undercut Net Neutrality.
This Net Neutrality deal-making is flying under the radar right now — but MoveOn.org has a plan to expose it, and stop it.
Just about every lawmaker is on Facebook these days, and they pay a lot of attention to what people say there. So MoveOn is recruiting a “Save the Internet” Corps to help flood the Facebook pages of representatives siding with the telecoms. We’ll call them out each day until we win this. Can you join?
Each day from now until mid-August, folks who join the Save the Internet Corps will get a short email letting you know which representatives’ Facebook page to write on. We’ll post respectful, factual arguments that show how these representatives have been siding with the telecom companies who are pushing a serious threat to a free and open Internet. It’ll take just a minute or two, but with hundreds of us together, it’ll make a big difference — and daily messages will definitely get their attention.
The back story is that, during the Bush era, big telecom companies lobbied hard — successfully — to take away the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet and protect Net Neutrality. Earlier this summer, it looked like the Obama FCC was moving to fix that. But the latest news — backroom deals with big corporations represented, and no public interest groups — isn’t good.
If big telecom companies and their congressional allies succeed, Net Neutrality, which says service providers like Comcast or Verizon can’t abuse their role as Internet gatekeepers by discriminating among websites, is in serious danger.
Without Net Neutrality, Comcast or Verizon could charge you more to use Yahoo’s search engine instead of Google’s, or to visit Target.com instead of Walmart.com. They could slow down your access to your local newspaper (or to a progressive blog) in favor of their own news site, or a site that paid them for premium access. They could even force you to use sites of their preference entirely.
It’s a scary thought. But we can stop it. This lobbyist effort isn’t getting a lot of attention right now. But by flooding congressional Facebook pages from now until August, we can bring this backroom deal-making to light — and force our representatives to stand up for the people, not corporate interests.
Kat Barr is a member of the MoveOn.org team of political organizers.