Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Net Neutrality Is the Civil Rights Act for the Internet

The mainstream media has been marveling lately at the grassroots movement that took on the powerful telecom industry and has all but won the battle for net neutrality. Activists successfully rallied the public to put mounting pressure on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to do something that seemed nearly impossible a year ago: reclassify the internet as a "common carrier" telecommunications service subject to tough rules that would ensure that powerful companies can't control what we see and do online. The agency is expected to approve those rules on Thursday.

This, however, is only part of the story.

Corporate news outlets were quick to report on the so-called "fast lanes" and "slow lanes" that could drive up the price of a Netflix subscription, but missing from the headlines was the ongoing debate over net neutrality within the civil rights movement and the contributions of its activists to the cause. The lack of coverage is a perfect example of why civil rights activists like Malkia Cyril say net neutrality - which Cyril calls "the free speech principle on the internet" - is central to the struggle for racial justice.


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