We must fight for our freedom of speech today | As It Turns Out

Want a slower, more expensive internet? That’s exactly what we’ll get if we lose our net neutrality.

Want to be told what website you can access and what you can’t? That’s exactly what will happen.

Congress will be voting shortly on whether or not to take away our protective net-neutrality law. Yet so few people appear to know about one of our most important political issues today.

We’re not hearing much about this from the mainstream media, so it’s up to the smaller community papers and smaller websites to help keep you informed.

Net neutrality means internet equality, which we’ve always had. That protection is being taken away from us and our families — right now.

This is a tremendous hit on our freedom of speech. It’s time to be aware — read, listen, and talk with family and friends. Arm yourself with information.

Why ignore the fact that our government is systematically being destroyed by clowns half-heartedly impersonating legislators? Stranger still are those who cheer it on, mainly because they identify as a Republican. They cheer on their own demise.

Members of Congress slap each other on the back, smirking, after straining mightily to deprive the neediest of us of our health care insurance — mainly the elderly, handicapped or poor. But our president delivered the death blow to the Affordable Care Act himself.

America is going through an enormous change. We’re forced to defend ourselves from our government. We’re no longer being ruled by the people, or even for the people.

The richest corporations and individuals are then aided and abetted by our representatives to gain more prosperity and power. Have you asked why?

For those who aren’t familiar with what “net neutrality” means, it’s the regulations that keep internet service providers (ISPs), and the regulators overseeing them, from treating internet users unequally. As long as we’ve had the internet, we’ve been protected by rules and regulations so that we can all have equal access to websites and applications because of net neutrality.

“Net neutrality is essential to education, economic opportunity, social movements and dissent,” Free Press reported.

Net neutrality is considered the First Amendment of the internet. No one should be cut off the internet just to allow corporations like AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Verizon (our ISPs) to make billions more dollars. The FCC wants to allow these rich corporations to make more fortunes off our internet. And without the regulations of net neutrality, Amy Kroin wrote for Common Cause, they are able to “throttle or block content and charge content creators for speedier access.”

Whatever site decides to pay ISP premiums has a direct advantage over other content providers (especially small businesses) that don’t pay that premium. “Some activists worry that ISPs could also block legal content that an ISP finds objectionable for whatever reason,” Bill Moyers wrote.

Susan Crawford, a telecommunications policy analyst, told Moyers, “For most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly. And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see, how interesting and interactive it is, how quickly it reaches you — and then charge whatever it wants.”

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said, “I remain convinced that the last presidential election we had was of, by, and for, big media. It made billions of dollars for these big media companies. We’re entering into a period where there likely will be more mergers than we’ve ever had before. The political and marketplace atmosphere that we have in this country right now favors them.”

And according to Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, “The internet has given more people a voice than ever before, and we’re not going to let the FCC take that power away from us. Massive online mobilization got us the strong net neutrality protections that we have now, and we intend to fight tooth and nail to defend them [again].”

How can free speech be important if you aren’t able to have the internet to make it heard? We must have the protection of Title II and net neutrality. Help us to try to keep the internet available for free speech — for all of us.

ACTION 1: Call your senators anytime you don’t like what the government is doing. Remember to leave a message as to why you called — “I don’t want to lose net neutrality” — and ask for a response from the senator (so the call will count as being made). Sen. Maria Cantwell, 202-224-3441; Sen. Patty Murray, 202-224-2621; U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, 202-225-5916.

ACTION 2: Find a group full of great people, such as Indivisible Kingston, Indivisible Bainbridge Island, or The Resisterhood.

— Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist who resides in Kingston. Contact her with questions or comments at marylin.olds@gmail.com.