The Internet is amazing. With just one click you can connect with people all over the world, explore vast amounts of human knowledge, and — maybe most importantly — access millions of cat videos.
And thanks to a principle called 'Net Neutrality' that forces Internet service providers to treat all content equally, it's also a level playing field for new ideas and different voices. But all that could be changing.
The FCC, whose job it is to regulate the industry, is currently considering a proposal that would allow companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to provide faster and better service to websites that pay a fee. As well as slow down or block those that don't. If this happens, the Internet as we know it will change forever.
The stakes for our democracy (and our ability to protect the environment) couldn't be higher. The FCC has opened up a public comment period for the new proposed rule and we know they've been sensitive to public pressure in the past. This is our chance to have our voices heard and save the Internet as we know it.
Not surprisingly, this proposal is being driven by the giant telecommunications industry and its lobbyists. These companies see it as a way to make more money, sure. But it's also another form of corporate control over the information we have access to.
If Internet service providers are allowed to create a 'pay-to-play' Internet, it will mean that large corporations will have even more control over what people see and are able to do online. That's a big problem for the environment.
To slow down global warming, start a clean energy revolution, protect our forests and oceans, grow sustainable agriculture, protect human rights, or promote peace, we need individuals and communities to prevail over corporate greed. I don't know how that happens without free and equal access to information on the Internet.
It's hard to imagine the last decade at Greenpeace without Net Neutrality. Would there be five million people from around the world standing up to Shell's plans to drill in the Arctic? Would companies in Indonesia still be destroying vast areas of Sumatran tiger rainforest habitat unchecked? Would supermarkets be worried about sustainable seafood and pushing more sustainable products on the shelves?
I don't know. What I do know is that without Net Neutrality, future victories and protecting our environment, or simply imagining a better future, is even harder to do.
We can have an Internet that is open, free and green, and helps us build the environmental movement and protect our communities against corporations.
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