In December 2017, despite the online backlash and urging against it, the FCC, under the leadership of Ajit Pai (himself a former lawyer for Verizon,) voted to disband the net neutrality rules. Some readers might be under the impression that since then, we’ve been fine without net neutrality. In fact, net neutrality does not fully start to come apart until April 23, and with it, the protections that net neutrality provides.
Without net neutrality, “Internet providers can speed up or slow down certain websites, or even outright not allow you to access them at all,” Anthony Copsey, an organizer of a recent pro-net-neutrality protest in Philadelphia, told me in an online interview. “Obviously, this is a form of censorship in every sense of the word, because what if an Internet provider doesn’t like a specific political view? Well, they can simply prevent you from seeing it.”
Here’s how the repeal of net neutrality can affect the LGBT community and other activist groups: “If you don’t have the funds to pay for certain websites, then you just won’t get [access to] them,” said Copsey. “If you are struggling financially, then you can’t access the Internet the same way others can. This can prevent many people from seeing what’s happening and knowing about these movements.” That means activism and other movements will lose visibility without net neutrality, he added.
The fight is not completely over. Battleforthenet.com has a guide of politicians who are for, neutral on and against net neutrality. A bill to overturn the FCC’s rules is now gaining traction in D.C. It’s urgent that you, your friends and your family get in touch with every representative and senator who is either voting no or has not committed either way. And not just in your state; contact every senator you can. Battleforthenet.com has pre-written tweets you can send out in seconds.
News reports indicate that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is considering passing an executive order protecting net neutrality, similar to orders in New York and Washington. We must push for this pro-net neutrality governor to pass this legislation as soon as possible, regardless of what happens nationally.
Please, I encourage — no, beg — everyone who reads this article or even this headline to take action now against this terror attack on our free speech. Make no mistake: Our freedoms are under attack, and only if we never relent will we be victorious; not just for yourself but for future generations, who deserve and need to have free access to the Internet.