Saving the Internet as we know it will take perpetual public pressure on the FCC, the Obama Administration, and future administrations not to enact new rules repealing net neutrality, said Green Party leaders and candidates.
Green Party leaders said that telecommunications lobbies will continue to press the FCC to abolish net neutrality and said that the U.S. must remove the Internet from corporate control by providing public access through free broadband.
An amended FCC proposal in response to the public outcry shows concessions but maintains pay-to-play access fees and a new standard that “creates high costs of regulation, does not provide certainty to market participants, and tilts the playing field in favor of large, established companies that can pay lots of lawyers and expert witnesses and afford long and costly proceedings at the FCC” (“Evaluating the Chairman’s Revised Net Neutrality Proposal,” by Barbara van Schewick and Morgan Weiland, The Center for Internet and Society, May 12, https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2014/05/evaluating-chairman%E2%80%99s-revised-net-neutrality-proposal).
“The Internet is a public asset, developed with our tax dollars. It’s time to recognize that the Internet is a public utility and make it a free and unrestricted public resource, in the same way that everyone can visit public libraries and borrow books for free,” said Nancy L. Wade, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois, 5th Congressional District (http://www.wadeincongress.org).
The Green Party’s national platform endorses free Internet access and net neutrality:
“Provide broadband Internet access for all residents of this country, so that access to information is a right, not a commodity… Ensure net neutrality, so that Internet users can access any web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider.” (http://www.gp.org/what-we-believe/our-platform/17-platform/37-i-democracy#FreeSpeech)
Some cities in other countries provide free wi-fi to their residents. In 2009, Finland became the first country to guarantee free broadband access to every citizen. Santa Monica, California, allows businesses to tap into the city’s network of fiber-optic cables, a service that will soon be offered to residents (http://www.surfsantamonica.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2014/April-2014/04_29_2014_Santa_Monicas_Alternative_to_Big_Business_Internet_Providers.html).
Greens said that the enactment of the FCC’s proposal would violate President Obama’s campaign promise in 2008 to preserve net neutrality.
“Net neutrality will remain in danger as long as telecomms like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon and their lobbies can buy influence on public policy,” said Christina Lugo, Green candidate for the U.S. House in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District (http://www.newmenu.org/chrislugo).
“The big ISPs [Internet Service Providers] scored a coup when President Obama named Tom Wheeler, venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, to chair the FCC. His appointment is comparable to the President’s decision to stack his administration with former Wall Street executives,” said Ms. Lugo.
Greens expressed support for the protests at FCC offices (http://www.popularresistance.org/fcc-we-wont-leave-until-the-internet-is-safe) and petition drives urging the FCC to cancel proposed rules that would allow ISPs to control access to web sites. Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, organizers of “The People’s Firewall” protest which began at FCC headquarters in Washington, DC, last week, are respectively Attorney General and Health Secretary in the Green Shadow Cabinet (http://greenshadowcabinet.us), an independent project led by 2012 Green presidential nominee Jill Stein.
The Green Party warned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international trade pact negotiated in secret by the Obama Administration, may also pose a grave threat to Internet freedom with proposals that would enable ISPs to function as “Internet police” with the power to monitor Internet use, censor content, and remove web sites. The TPP’s provisions affecting Internet service were exposed by Wikileaks (http://www.wikileaks.org/tpp/).
“The threat to the open Internet shows how the demand for corporate ‘freedom’, deregulation, and privatization is an attack on freedom for everyone else. The FCC’s proposal would grant media conglomerates the freedom to restrict our access to some web sites and make it easier to visit sites whose owners pay fees to the ISPs, giving these private companies control over the flow of information,” said Chris Wahmhoff, Green candidate for the U.S. Senate in Michigan.
“We can have freedom for corporations or freedom for people. We can’t have both,” said Mr. Wahmhoff.
Party Press Release