Saturday, December 16, 2017

John NIchols: Trump’s “most brutal blow to democracy”

John Nichols, friend of the Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area, explains in The Nation how Gutting Net Neutrality Is the Trump Administration’s Most Brutal Blow to Democracy Yet. He says ”This cannot be the end of a free and open Internet. Activists must fight on in the courts, in Congress, and in the streets.”

Despite overwhelming public support for a free and open Internet, the [FCC’s] Trump-aligned majority engineered a 3–2 vote to overturn net-neutrality rules that have required Internet service providers to treat all online communications equally—and, in a related move, the commission majority rejected the authority of the FCC to protect a free and open Internet. Commission chair Ajit Pai, the telecommunications-industry lawyer who has done Donald Trump’s bidding in debates on a host of media and democracy issues, has cleared the way for service providers to establish information superhighways for political and corporate elites, while consigning communications from grassroots activists to digital dirt roads.

Much of the debate about overturning net neutrality has been focused on the damage the move will do to consumers, and there can be no question that clearing the way for unprecedented profiteering by telecommunications corporations barters off our digital future to the same grifters who have turned broadcast- and cable-media platforms into vast wastelands of commercial excess. “ISPs want to turn the internet into cable,” says Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA). “[They] want people to pay for every application.”

But the biggest cost of eliminating net neutrality will be to the American experiment in citizen-driven dialogue, discourse, and decision making. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says:

The internet makes it easier for people to get organized and amplify their voices. Ending Net Neutrality will make it harder for the people to fight powerful interests.

Describing net neutrality as a racial-justice, social-justice, and economic-justice issue, Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, explained that “A free and open Internet allows us to organize and resist. We need that now more than ever.”

And that is why the alliance4action and similar groups need to ramp up their resistance to what the FCC has done - as Nichols notes:

Ellison is right. Those who would resist the Trump administration’s most authoritarian and anti-democratic instincts—on issues ranging from voter suppression to freedom of the press to civil rights and civil liberties—have used a free and open Internet to organize throughout 2017. They will need to continue to do so in 2018 and beyond.

Nichols cites a dissenting opinion of one of the FCC commissioners.

This is not good. Not good for consumers. Not good for businesses. Not good for anyone who connects and creates online. Not good for the democratizing force that depends on openness to thrive. Moreover, it is not good for American leadership on the global stage of our new and complex digital world,

[Jessica] Rosenworcel said of the FCC vote.

I’m not alone with these concerns. Everyone from the creator of the world wide web to religious leaders to governors and mayors of big cities and small towns to musicians to actors and actresses to entrepreneurs and academics and activists has registered their upset and anger. They are reeling at how this agency could make this kind of mistake. They are wondering how it could be so tone deaf. And they are justifiably concerned that just a few un-elected officials could make such vast and far-reaching decisions about the future of the Internet.

So is the FCC’s 3–2 vote the end of it?

No. Net neutrality’s defenders will fight on in Congress, in the courts and at the ballot box to overturn this wrongheaded decision. Groups associated with the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition—led by the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Free Press Action Fund, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and 18 Million Rising—intend to fight on for net neutrality with legislative and legal strategies.

They have reason to be confident.

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