KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The expression, “knowledge is power” has always resonated with me. But it’s hard to know what to really put our attention to. We are inundated with information every day. Thanks to the internet, blogs, influencers, TV and the movies, and even memes, it’s hard to decipher fact from fiction. Do we really get a chance to see what’s going on in the world? How do we start to discern what we can do to make a difference, what we could do to elicit change? So I’ve asked, Michelle Karshan to take the current headlines and break them down as simple as possible. To truly understand what the issues are, and how they truly affect our world.
President Obama’s Net Neutrality Protections Repealed by FCC
President Trump directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deregulate net neutrality via a vote to repeal what President Obama put in place in 2015. The FCC’s December 14th vote reverses the guarantee of net neutrality claiming the Obama regulations were heavy handed. Net neutrality guaranteed an open internet for all, with equal access, speed and pricing. It also forbid internet service providers from prioritizing sites for faster connections in favor of more profitable ones, or creating “fast lanes.” Internet service providers will no longer be required to disclose how they treat internet traffic and it is feared that they will become the gatekeepers of the internet, making decisions based on their profits.
Protests by Netflix, Amazon, Etsy, Reddit, Kickstarter, Imgur, Mozilla, Pinterest, internet companies, consumer and civil rights groups, musicians, actors, independent artists, scientists, librarians and others raise concerns that they will be charged more for high speed and will have to pass on higher costs to their users, and that start up businesses will not be able to compete.
Creating greater disparities, vulnerable populations will be hardest hit including students who spend many hours studying online at home or at public libraries. Researching social services, political activism, consumer, health, weather and disaster information may be slowed down, become too expensive or even blocked. Jobs now found online, resumes uploaded, and online employment interviews may be out of reach.
Pledging to fight the repeal in Congress and in the courts, 26 senators signed a resolution to undo the FCC’s net neutrality repeal. Attorneys General of several states including New York, California, Washington and Minnesota promised to sue claiming the FCC voting process was rushed and fraudulent. A New York State Assembly member drafted legislation requiring all New York State and New York City agencies to do business only with those ISPs that strictly adhere to net neutrality principles.
The repeal vote will not go into effect until approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Lawsuits opposing it cannot be filed until then. This pushes the issue right into the upcoming midterm election period, which Democrats hope will result in their favor winning over those – including younger potential voters -- who strongly oppose the elimination of net neutrality.