Should corporations own the internet?

Yesterday, the Trump appointees in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed an Obama Administration rule that kept the internet open for all users.

“Net neutrality” requires internet providers like Verizon and Comcast to send all content through at the same speed and prevents them from discriminating based on content. Next month the rule will be gone.

This will allow internet service providers—often cable companies that have local monopolies—to charge more to allow some content or block content altogether. This is like putting up a private toll plaza on the highway and charging some vehicles more than others—or forcing them off the road. Cable companies should not get to decide what you can access easily—or at all—on the Internet.

The FCC also passed a rule to prevent states from using their own laws to keep the internet neutral.

What can we do about it? There are at least two options. All we need is the political will. 

1. The Attorney General of New York is leading a multi-state effort to sue the FCC over the gutting of net neutrality. Minnesota should join that lawsuit. You can email Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office at Attorney.General@ag.state.mn.us to urge her to join the lawsuit.

2. Minnesota can also fight back by supporting municipal broadband throughout the state. Broadband is as basic and necessary as roads and bridges, and in the 21st Century it is essential to our economy. Schools, hospitals, small businesses, individuals all need access to speedy, reliable internet service. The state can help local governments set up and pay for the internet framework. Then the public will own the internet hardware and can let the corporations lease it on terms that are good for the public.  

Weekly EmailLeo Alfred