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If You Care About Freedom of Speech, You Should Care About Net Neutrality

September 14, 2014

I know, two posts in one day, what? But it was brought to my attention that, if you happen to be American, there’s a very important thing for you to weigh in on by tomorrow: Let the FCC know how you feel about Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is talked about as if it’s all about money or speed of transfer. It isn’t. It’s about who has control of the information and ideas that get distributed to the general public. Historically, that control has always been held by mainstream media – newspapers, TV, radio. The people whose perspectives were heard were those who could pay to have them disseminated.

Social media has changed the game, big time. I’m sure I need not remind you about the Arab Spring , as a prime example. The current teacher strike here in B.C. is another one closer to home; I have worked in education for more than a decade and have never seen such a high level of support for teachers amongst the general public. I’m convinced it’s because teachers have been able to use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to make their perspectives heard. I believe also that the major changes in attitude toward things like marriage equality have been driven by social media, and a neutral Internet where minority voices can make themselves heard.

This shift in discourse is surely terrifying for those who are used to controlling the conversation. If the U.S. government allows those who can pay more to have faster access to your computer screens (and I have no doubt that this will have ripple effects on Canadian society as well as countries outside of North America), we will return to the same hierarchy. Let’s not do that.


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