The Internet existed without net neutrality until 2015. Now, based on the reaction to Thursday’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to strike the regulation, we can’t live without it.
“Killing #NetNeutrality would kill access to abortion information,” tweeted Sandra Fluke, who became famous for saying she had a right to government-paid contraception. “Before tomorrow’s vote, take action with @NARAL to demand the @FCC keep internet open for #ReproFreedom.”
Click open the page referenced in her tweet, and it reveals even more fearmongering.
“Imagine a world where a woman searches the Internet but can find no information on how to access an abortion,” the fundraising appeal from NARAL, the pro-abortion group, states.
“Imagine trying to call your representative, but you can’t get through because the phone company is being paid to limit the number of phone calls to Congress. Join us as we battle to save the Internet.”
It’s not just birth control and abortion that will disappear from the Internet after the regulations were ended. It’s the gay community as well.
“Stripping away net neutrality is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to silence voices of already marginalized communities and render us invisible,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, which calls itself the nation’s largest gay organization.
“The Internet is a lifeline for LGBTW people to build community support networks and access LGBTQ resources on history, suicide prevention and health—allowing broadband providers to regulate access is a direct and unconscionable attack on freedom of expression.”
Joy Reid, a commentator on MSNBC, held a Twitter forum of sorts to decry not just this move but the entire Trump deregulatory thrust.
“Deregulation is designed to do only one thing: make corporations more profitable, by reducing the cost of doing business. Making products cleaner and safer costs money. Making workplaces safe and clean costs money. Keeping the air clean means less drilling, so less money.”
As research from The Heritage Foundation has shown, increased earnings lead to more environmental protection, not less.
Near the picture Trump posted of the number of regulations before he began and the number now, Reid commented: “Every one of those pages protects your food from being filled with rat droppings, spoiled meat out of your deli, lead out of your paint, your children’s medicine from being defective & corporations from polluting the air you breathe or dumping medical waste in the water you wade in.”
“Deregulation is great if you’re a company because it’s cheaper and more profitable to cut corners. And if no one’s looking, people cut corners. Deregulation is not so good if you value clean air, water and safe food, medicine and workplaces.”
Eric Schneiderman, attorney general of New York, vowed to sue to stop “this illegal action” and claimed 2 million public comments were submitted through fake accounts, some with stolen identities. He also claimed removing net neutrality regulations would result in viewpoint discrimination online – as if some Republican company would take over an Internet Service Provider and refuse to let Democrats express their views on Facebook.
“This is more than an attack on the future of the Internet as we know it,” he said. “It’s a travesty for anyone who cares about their voice in government.”
Many stories were of the “what now” variety and listed several doomsday scenarios that are now apparently at hand. Access to social media could be limited. ISPs could block access to websites or throttle connection speeds. It could “decide to block access to Netflix but give free access to HBO,” wrote Slate.
“The main complaint the consumers have about the internet is not and has never been that their internet providers are blocking access to content,” said Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, who has received death threats because of his actions on this issue. The main problem, he said, was lack of access, and that is better addressed with a free market.