No Internet Poll Taxes
My friend and colleague James Rucker wrote a piece on Huffington Post asking a simple question: Why are Some Civil Rights Groups and Leaders on the Wrong Side of Net Neutrality? I left a comment, and this post elaborates on the points I made there.
Participation, Inclusion, Equality
Democratic systems flourish when people participate. Having a voice changes people’s relationship with that system and the system’s relationship with the people.
When everyone can’t participate, the system no longer reflects the values and perspectives of the people it impacts. Barriers to entry create divisions, inequality and unfairness.
The Internet was designed as an egalitarian utopia: the El Dorado of the “good ideas win” ethos. Anyone with access to the net could connect with anyone else. Every idea had an equal opportunity to succeed.
When the Internet was taken hostage by telecommunications companies, they threatened this order. They limited participation online by pricing most low-income communities out of the market, creating the Digital Divide. This practice of exclusion reduced the diversity of thought online. It put the Internet on an identical path to becoming an echo chamber of pale, stale, male attitudes.
Next Stop: Poll Taxes
The redlining was round one, but the next round is more sinister. Telecoms are now considering crushing freedom of expression online by creating Jim Crow-esque poll taxes on content they consider unfit for higher-speed, higher-quality Internet connections. This assault on the freedom by private interests is as wrong now as it has ever been.
This should raise specific concern within the civil rights community. Civil rights organizations fought and won the war against poll taxes over 40 years ago. It’s alarming that they are willing to open the door for this type of discrimination in the 21st century. It’s up to us, the membership, the foot-soldiers of these organizations and of this 21st century civil rights movement, to take a stand against this disgusting discrimination.
Protecting Internet Freedom by ensuring Net Neutrality
The FCC is considering creating rules to protect Internet Freedom. Learn more about the process at Save The Internet. I testified at a hearing in December to voice my strong support of protecting Internet Freedom.
You can join the fight by demanding that Congress work alongside the FCC to protect Internet Freedom and outlaw discrimination by telecom companies.
One Love. One II.