If you’re sick of seeing the phrase “net neutrality” by now, don’t worry: we’re all just as sick of having to talk about it. This December isn’t the first time that there’s been an attempt to roll back net neutrality - you may recall a similar panic occuring last year (and the year before that), with thousands scrambling to spread the news, sign petitions, write their representatives, and generally make a loud enough noise that they were - at the very least - heard. And for a while, that actually seemed to have worked.
That, however, was before unrepentant Verizon plant (and all around smug piece of shit) Ajit Pai was tapped as chairman of the FCC, and now all hell has officially broken loose. On the day the vote to repeal net neutrality was passed, 83% of Americans opposed repealing net neutrality, the technology officer of the FCC had expressed concern over the measure, 37 Democratic senators signed a letter to urge the FCC panel voting to abandon the measure, and even a few Republican lawmakers made appeals to the FCC to delay their vote. With such intense and unanimous pushback, one would think that the right decision would be obvious. But apparently, it wasn’t, because—as predicted even before the vote went through by several publications from CNN to USA Today—net neutrality got rolled back today in a 3-2 vote.
So what now? Well, just because the FCC vote has occurred doesn’t necessarily mean that the final decision has been made. Groups in favor of net neutrality have been gearing up to sue the FCC if the vote went this direction since the first drafts of the measure were released, and thousands of fraudulent comments put forth to the FCC championing the end of open internet rules have prompted many—including the FBI—to take a closer look into the commenting process. This means that the fight isn’t over, and there’s still time for us to act by contacting our representatives, contacting the FCC, and to generally make noise. Which, at this point, admittedly feels like screaming into the void; after all, it was already made clear once that public opinion is at the back of lawmaker’s minds, why bother to try and get their attention again? Because apart from a free and equally accessible internet being an essential part of our ability to function in the 21st century in general—our lives as artists and content creators today is almost completely reliant on social media and other online avenues. With the oftentimes hegemonic and closed nature of the art world, the internet is supposed to be a playing field on which everyone exists on relatively equal footing—with equal (though not yet equal enough) with the same ability to share their work, view the work of others, and engage within a community. And though—despite many panicked rumors—the end of net neutrality won’t lead to everyone having to pay $14.99 a month for access to Twitter: it will make the Internet significantly more unequal.