Ending Net Neutrality is a nail in the coffin of resistance. Fight it.

If you have been on the internet at all in the past five years then you’ve likely heard about the fight for Net Neutrality. In a general sense, the loss of Net Neutrality will be a major inconvenience for many people but it will be absolutely devastating for marginalized groups. The loss of the internet as we know it will lead to further oppression and silencing of marginalized folx around the world.  

The internet, including social media, has become an important tool in helping marginalized groups, be they people of color, LGBTQIA+, or women be seen, heard, and organize for their collective needs. It has been a way for people to communicate, share information, protect and help each other.

This isn’t to say that it has been all sunshine and roses. The internet is also, in part, responsible for the rise of literal Nazis marching in the streets. That is true but it is also true that without the internet we would have not had the BLM movement that has drawn such focus on police brutality nor would #NoDAPL had the coverage and support it garnered.

Right now, you can access pretty much any content you could want to find on the internet. From mega money sites like Facebook and Amazon to the little independent shops and sites dedicated to specific causes and information. The world is your oyster.

Related: MIRRORING SOCIETY, WHITE ANXIETY REIGNS SUPREME WITHIN THE LITERARY WORLD

If we lose Net Neutrality, your ISPs (Internet Service Providers, in other words, the companies you pay for access) will be able to control what you can and can’t see. Right now, they aren’t allowed to do that thanks to Obama era rules and regulations that put an end to that. The net, under these regulations, is an open highway that anyone can travel to anywhere. If these regulations are overturned on December 14, then your ISP can decide whether or not you can access anything.

They can control this access by charging more for “fast lane” internet service, break service into packages (like cable channels but for your online use) or potentially block services they do not have a relationship with or that they simply disagree with.

This isn’t something that is likely to be much of an issue for people who primarily use the internet for popular services. Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, etc likely won’t see much change. These companies have enough revenue to ensure that their services will always be accessible (unless of course the ISP does business with a competitor and wants to push traffic that way). It’s the smaller websites like Rest for Resistance or Wear Your Voice that will have an issue. They do not have the revenue to pay for fast lane status and their readers and subscribers are often from marginalized groups who disproportionately are affected by poverty and may not have the extra cash for such things either.

By not having access to such resources, marginalized groups will not be able to as effectively organize and in some cases, mobilize against the forces that seek to keep them oppressed. They will not have the resources they need to find protection and support.

Of course, we will likely still be able to hop on Facebook and Twitter, both of which have been important tools in resistance and survival in today’s world but we will lose the ability to move around and build platforms that best support us, our needs, our movements.  

For example, you like to read Kinfolk Kollective’s thoughts on today’s world but she’s off Facebook again because they can’t get their racist moderation policies together. So, you go to her website. Well at least you try because in this new future you must pay an extra fee for access to the open net. Or the speed is just so slow that you get tired of waiting. So, you never get to read her words or be part of that community.

Related: FACEBOOK ALLOWS WHITE VIOLENCE TO FLOURISH ON ITS PLATFORM

If you want to start offering spiritual services and can’t use Etsy due to their oppressive rules, your customers may not have the means to get to your website to purchase such goods. Your own blog or your favorite blog that outlines the daily life living with disability that provides information and resources may become inaccessible to people who need it.

The easy answer would be to move to a different ISP but that’s impossible for many people in the US. There is a cost factor involved, the pricing for access can be drastically different between providers. The bigger issue is though that many areas only have one provider available. There simply are no other options.

The attack on Net Neutrality is an attack on marginalized groups. It is a way to keep POC from revealing the crimes of people who would oppress them. It is a way to keep LGBTQAI+ people from organizing. It is a way to keep disabled people from finding support outside of the medical industrial complex.

Forget porn, forget whether or not you’ll be able to access Netflix. Those things are annoying but they’re not the end of the world. Ending Net Neutrality will cast a wave of silence over marginalized groups, drowning our voices.

We die in silence.

Ending Net Neutrality is a nail in the coffin of resistance. Fight it.

Resources for fighting against the end of Net Neutrality:

Battle for the Net

5 Calls

Save The Internet

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

CREDO Action

ACLU

Organizations to support (via Mashable)

Fight for the Future

Demand Progress

Free Press

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Access Now

Public Knowledge

 

 

 

Featured Image: Manos Gkikas on Unsplash

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