In the face of attempts by the Trump administration to roll back recent net neutrality gains and hand the web over to large telecommunications companies, Open Internet advocates, civil rights groups, and thousands of websites are joining forces on Wednesday to participate in a national day of action to highlight the importance of preserving net neutrality.
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The efforts of activists—highlighted on the Battle for the Net Campaign's official website, which outlines the various ways in which organizations plan to participate—have already drawn significant attention to an issue that too often remains on the outskirts of public debate.
"The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) docket for public comments on the existing net neutrality rules has already surpassed all records, with more than 5.6 million comments from individuals, organizations, companies and other interested parties—and many more to come as a result of Wednesday's day of action," noted Free Press, an Open Internet advocacy group, in a statement on Tuesday.
The Battle for the Net Campaign, Free Press notes, is just one part of a long-term effort to "save the internet from Trump and his cronies."
Recent moves by the Trump administration have only served to intensify opposition efforts. Specifically, President Donald Trump's decision to renominate FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—who, as Vice notes, "wants to abolish the 2015 FCC decision to regulate internet providers as utilities"—has alarmed supporters of net neutrality who have witnessed the Republican-controlled FCC move quickly to scale back regulations.
"The rules...generally require telecommunications companies that provide online access, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., to treat all internet traffic the same and not slow or block some sites," the Wall Street Journal explains.
Candace Clement, action fund campaign director for Free Press, argues that eliminating these regulations would effectively allow Comcast and other telecommunications giants to dominate the Internet for financial gain while limiting the freedom and privacy of consumers.
"The existing net neutrality protections put Internet users in the driver's seat and keep big cable and phone companies from controlling what you see and do online," Clement said in a statement. "That's why millions of people support Title II: It prevents these companies from charging us pricey tolls to access the online content we want—and from throttling, blocking or discriminating against the apps, websites and services of our choosing."
"The polling shows that voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree we don't want our cable companies to be able to censor us, charge us extra fees, or essentially be the editors-in-chief of the Internet."
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, called net neutrality "the First Amendment of the Internet" and argued that the struggle to preserve it is "the free speech fight of our generation."
"The polling shows that voters from across the political spectrum—Democrats, independents, Republicans, doesn't matter—overwhelmingly agree we don't want our cable companies to be able to censor us, charge us extra fees, or essentially be the editors-in-chief of the Internet," Greer concluded. "So, this is why it's so important that people use these tools, speak out, show up at their member of Congress's offices and make this an issue that they know they will be burned by if they burn their constituents."
Watch Greer's interview: