You might have noticed your browsing experience was interrupted by a call-to-action on Wednesday, July 12. Amazon, Netflix, Etsy, OKCupid and hundreds of other sites covered their loading pages with banners and images asking you to save the internet. Millions of us joined together to protest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), heeding the call from grassroots activists across all corners of the web.
by President Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai, the FCC is working to
roll back rules that ensure the free and open flow of information on
the internet. The body is attempting to undo the partial
classification of the internet as a utility (meaning something every
person has the right to have), and to massively expand the rights of
Big Cable to lie about speeds and other services in order to make
huge profits. These efforts pose a threat to net neutrality, the
principle at the foundation of the internet that internet service
providers treat all traffic equally. Net neutrality supports the open
and free flow of information—without discrimination and without
favoring content or services.
no mistake: Net neutrality is one of the defining workers’ rights
and civil rights issue of our time. We all know the internet is
driving changes in culture, politics and the economy. It is also one
of the key spaces where workers can organize—and where mass
movements for racial and economic justice blossom and build power.
like Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, have
a long history of monitoring employees’ online activities as
workers move to unionize. Meanwhile, more and more workplaces exist
remotely or at home, whether you are a homecare worker supporting a
person with disabilities in their independence, a gig worker in an
Uber or Lyft car, or a salesperson for Amazon or Etsy.
this economic climate, net neutrality has a huge impact on your
ability to build community, solidarity and unity in your workplace.
Big telecom companies, in their never-ending quest to make more money
from workers, will use any cutback in net neutrality rules to put
tolls along the internet with extra charges and fees. The impacts are
going to be acutely felt, making it costlier for remote workers to do
their jobs and connect with others on the job. We know who benefits
from employees feeling strapped and isolated: the boss.
we kill net neutrality, we will make it more politically possible for
Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other big telecom providers to raise
their prices and sell your private data for profit. Net neutrality is
an important protection that working-class people and communities of
color need, considering the history of predatory practices of telecom
providers and the tightening wallets of Americans who aren't part of
the one percent. People of color, women, LGBTQAI communities and
immigrants are already underrepresented in the media. If you can’t
represent yourself, someone else will—and probably get it wrong.
big telecoms behind the FCC’s push to kill net neutrality fight
their own workers every day. Verizon in 2016 proposed cuts so deep to
wireline workers represented by Communications Workers of America
that the nearly-40,000-member union went on strike for more than a
in their hometown of Philadelphia, opposed a
city-wide, paid-sick-leave policy in 2014. The corporate giant that
also owns NBC spent the
past year backing a lawsuit against Philadelphia City Council’s
attempt to address the wage gap. When it comes to the rules that
govern the web, you can be sure that big internet service providers
are going to care more about their bottom line than workers, poor
people and people of color.
cable and the FCC claim that relaxing net neutrality will allow for
“innovation.” But workers should reject any claim of “innovation”
from companies that have redlined communities of color, and kept our
choices of service providers to one or two maximum, in almost every
market in the United States. For those of us who are committed to the
long arc of justice, innovation looks a lot different. Innovation
means nurturing the internet as a critical tool for the growth of
social movements and making the world we all deserve possible.
Patrisse Cullors, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, put
it in an op-ed defending the rules the last time the
decision came to a head: “It’s because of net neutrality rules
that the internet is the only communications channel left where black
voices can speak and be heard.”
action was led by some of the strongest voices protecting
working-class people and communities of color in exercising their
right to communicate and access information, including Center for
Media Justice, Color of Change, Fight for the Future and Free Press.
The protest generated more than two million comments to the FCC, five
million emails to Congress and nearly 125,000 calls to Congress. We
believe this single day of online action was the biggest—ever—in
the history of the internet.
breadth of involvement is a useful reminder that net neutrality isn’t
a fringe issue. It’s an issue core to our identity as U.S. freedom
fighters. It shapes the very terrain and conditions we struggle in,
and the nature of the democracy we are trying to win. If you are a
worker, fighting for justice, you are fighting for net neutrality
>> The article above was written by Bryan Mercer, and is reprinted from In These Times.