I just returned from the Net Neutrality meeting in Seattle, where the community had an opportunity to share their comments with the FCC about the future of the internet and the importance of maintaining an open internet.
The FCC heard from a diverse group of community members. Two people really got my attention, and I hope the FCC's. One woman spoke about growing up in Austria during WWII when Goebbels controlled the media for the Nazis. She told the audience of about 50 people about radio broadcasts during the war, and how "they were winning," but that no one knew about the concentration camp just a mile outside of town. She reminded the FCC that censorship and redlining should be prohibited in the internet.
Another woman, a Chinese immigrant who left right after the Tienanmen Square massacre also warned of the dangers of internet censorship, and pleaded with the FCC to institute regulations governing American corporations operating in China that would prevent them from censoring content to the Chinese people. She named several multinational corporations in Western Washington that actively censor Tienanmen Square in their search results to the Chinese people. She said, "People are dieing because of this."
I took the opportunity to share how we used social media during the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. I explained that I used facebook to build a 40,000 person strong network in six weeks to inform my friends, neighbors, and fair minded voters about how important it was to keep the Domestic Partnership law so gay, lesbian, and senior citizens could be protected equally under the law.
I told the FCC that it was vital to the LGBT community and minority communities in general, to maintain a free flow of information without filters from internet service providers. I told them net neutrality was essential to a democracy and that without these tools gays and lesbians may not have full equality under the law in the State of Washington. I told them that we are still using these tools to gain full equality at the Federal Level, and that if corporations were permitted to filter out gay and lesbian content that it would stifle our civil rights movement.
I made direct eye contact with each and every FCC representative as I said this, while they smiled and nodded vigorously.
If you are free, there is another meeting with representatives from the FCC in Seattle at the Jackson Federal Building on Thursday at 9:30 AM. They will take questions and comments, but only on note cards.
With internet service fees as high as they are, who can afford to take time off work to address the FCC? Not many people, I imagine. The FCC still wants to hear from you at their blog and they are listening on twitter with #FCC attached to your tweets.
The FCC certainly appeared to be listening last night, I only hope they take what they heard and take swift action protect and improve our open internet experience.