The Continued Fight for an Open Internet

fighting-back-for-net-neutrality

The Internet we have been used to – an open platform for uncensored communications and organizing – has suffered a major sabotage by a corrupt appointee sitting at the head of the FCC, but – just like our general fight for a fair civilization in which we all can live lives worth living – the fight for having such an open platform which is vital to our fight for a better world isn’t over. In fact, it is part of the fight for a good world to live in, a fight that has been raging ever since selfish bullies transformed the egalitarian societies of our ancestors into cruel pyramid schemes based on underhanded tricks like land ownership, “blue blood,” privately held corporations, and ill-gotten positions of state power. 

The thing to keep in mind is that no revolution ever created permanent solutions. The struggle that jumped light years ahead in our first American Revolution has never been over, even as generations of Americans fell into a lull after the New Deal, thinking that all was now right and would forever remain that way. That’s not how it works. We will always have to be vigilant and fight the forces of evil. The best we can hope and fight for is such fundamental revolutionary change in mentality and civilization that the proverbial rotten apples will have been removed from the system and only small vigilance will still be required. This is a point we definitely haven’t reached, yet. Neither the first American Revolution reached it, nor the revolutionary steps that our country took since, like the end of plantation slavery, the female vote, the New Deal, and the civil rights fight for racial equality.

We have had historic ups and downs. We are in a deep down valley again, and the way forward will lead upwards again, if we pull it off.

Sadly, our oppressors have become ever more sophisticated over time, and my worry is that we may soon reach a point of no return where the wall built from intense surveillance, censorship, and the manipulation of public awareness replete with masterfully manufactured consent (and possibly the use of mind-altering drugs, as well, in the future) will have become impenetrable. Pai’s opening up the Internet for censorship is a big brick in that wall.

This is why our current fight is so important. The political revolution we have begun to build may very well be the last chance humanity has to shrug off its oppressors and the oppressive systems they have created. The fights for liberty and economic security have thus become one, and having uncensored communication available is of utmost importance.

So, after Ajit Pai’s smooth-talking, silver-tongued betrayal of the American People and all of humanity, how will things unfold next with regard to the Internet?

There are interesting speculations and promising actions floating over Pai’s wreckage right now. For one thing, the effects of his fairness-rules-repeal may be delayed for years because of upcoming law suits. For another, Congress, if pushed hard enough by us (and taking into account that some 80% of Americans want Net Neutrality to continue) could undo Pai’s stab in the back of democracy. Last, but not least, “regular” Americans and their communities may take things into their own hands to boycott or bypass the greedy communications corporations who are behind Pai’s treason. Here are some details:

 

I. Legal Battles

A Washington Post article reported on upcoming legal action:

Because of the potentially far-reaching consequences of the vote, consumer groups and some state attorneys general have vowed to sue the FCC to overturn its decision. The first suits could be filed in mid-January, according to some analysts.

“We’re suing because the FCC today broke essentially all the rules of administrative procedure,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told MSNBC last week after the vote. “Agencies aren’t just allowed to make any arbitrary decision. In fact, courts have held that if a decision is ‘arbitrary and capricious’ … it has to be rejected.”

A Gizmodo article describes the lengthy, convoluted, and lottery-like legal battle ahead, saying that “the war isn’t even close to a conclusion,” just yet. Duration: years. Outcome uncertain.

 

II. The FTC can’t take over from the FCC

Another Washington Post article explains why the FTC may be unable to step in and replace the FCC as our Net Neutrality arbiter:

Unfortunately, as the FCC chairman well knows, reversal of the 2015 order won’t simply restore the FTC’s broadband jurisdiction. That’s because, separately, the question of whether the FTC has jurisdiction over any services offered by a telecom company is under serious challenge in the courts.

Basically, the FCC being made to step back from its duty pushes the Internet back into the legal no-man’s land it was in 2015. The FTC can’t regulate common carriers, which is why we demanded in 2015 that the FCC, which can regulate them, take over.

There is another dark side to the current situation: back in the 20th century, the forces of oligarchic evil acted as secretly as possible. Puppets like Reagan and Bill Clinton additionally served as a pretty veneer to cover up their dark machinations, making them look good on the surface for many unsuspecting folks. However, at the turn of the century, with the entrance of the Bush-Cheney regime, we entered the next phase of domination: brazen, in-your-face authoritarian impunities and violations of our rights that were to teach us, the unwashed masses, that we are helpless. And when we overcame our shock, and millions of us began to stand up, part two of this phase was put into action: namely hitting us with such frequency that we are bound to get tired of fighting the same fight over and over again. The corporate assault on Net Neutrality is a perfect example: we won this fight in 2015, and so now – two to three years later – the thugs simply repeat their attack, counting on us to wear out and slump into resignation.

However, if we do, it will mean the end of all hope. Once we have become unable to fight back, the oligarchs will have realized their dream: a permanent, unassailable oligarchy.

Any of us with as much as a single democratic fiber (with a small “d”) in us must realize that the political revolution we have begun to talk about and work for is the fight of our lives, the culmination of human history which has arrived at a fork in the road: one path leading to eternal disaster, the other to Heaven on Earth. While demons like Ajit Pai drool over the former, I for sure choose the latter, and I urge you to do the same. Small corrective adjustments will no longer be enough. We must pull out gross inequality at the root to end the oligarchy and prevent it from coming back. But back to the specific topic at hand…

 

III. Appeal to Congress

One thing left for us may be to keep on the pressure on members of Congress: If they don’t support strong net neutrality protections, let’s write them and explain how we won’t forget their stance next time they seek office. Here is one venue to do so: https://www.battleforthenet.com/

Demand Progress sent out an email explaining how and why Congress can overturn Pai’s treasonous act, that a vote is already in the making, and asking for donations to help Demand Progress put pressure on Congress:

Congress still has the power to overturn the FCC’s vote and save net neutrality.

The Senate is planning a vote to undo the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order. If we can hold all the Democrats in line, we will need only two Republican senators on our side to win—and Susan Collins of Maine has already come out strongly against Pai’s repeal of net neutrality.

The FCC—the regulating body that Demand Progress members helped convince to issue strong net neutrality rules in 2015—voted to repeal those rules after Trump’s ISP-approved appointees took over. But Congress has the ability to overrule them under a law called the Congressional Review Act. And Senator Chuck Schumer has already said that there will be a CRA vote in the Senate.1

This is great news. More than 80% of Americans are in favor of net neutrality .

Basically, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to undo any government agency’s regulatory decision by passing a “resolution of disapproval.” Up until the Trump Administration, it had been used only one time in its twenty years on the books. But since Trump bought himself the presidency, the CRA has been used to repeal 14 Obama Administration regulations. Ironically, the minority party in the Senate can use the CRA, too. In fact, one provision actually allows the minority party in the Senate to get floor consideration of a resolution of disapproval. This is an opportunity for the “D” arm of the Money Party to curry favor in public opinion.

 

IV. Direct Action

Communities may start local municipal broad band services, but may have to struggle with Pai’s and state politicians’ bans on such activities. We may have to push for nationalization of the American portion of the Internet, which would in essence just mean taking back what we developed as a nation through publicly funded research and development anyway. Net Neutrality must definitely be included in the People’s Platform we need for our political revolution that must bring about a reversal of our nation’s and humanity’s ominous course: away from evil, death, and destruction towards a world of good.

The thing to maybe tell the few friends or neighbors who don’t understand what the repeal of Net Neutrality means may be: You’ll be paying more for your broadband. And the choice of what you can see, read, watch, listen to, or post for others will be left up to your ISP.

~

Ending Note: It takes me at least 100 hours a month to research and write for this site. If you find any value in what I do, please consider becoming a patron and supporting this site with an automatic monthly donation of $1 or more. If you can’t afford this, then don’t, but please share my posts, tell folks about my online course offering, refer others to this site, refer me to paying outlets, partake in discussion, or contribute essays of your own. Thanks. Only together can we change the world. 🙂

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One thought on “The Continued Fight for an Open Internet

  1. Thanks for the links to what actions we can take. I’m hoping the lawsuits will slow things up a bit on the ISPs trying to nickel-and-dime us to death and then we’ll have time to pressure a new Congress at the end of 2018 to overturn this ruling.

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