Protect Net Neutrality in California

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When the Stamp Act of 1765 was passed in Britain, people loudly protested, and groups like the Sons of Liberty were created. Our Founding Fathers knew when our rights were being threatened.

Sadly, our democracy is coming under siege yet again, this time not by unfair colonial governments, but by the telecommunications companies. A few weeks ago, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and former lawyer for Verizon, announced plans to kill net neutrality protections passed in 2015. These protections prevent Internet Service Providers, like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and others from blocking access to lawful content and engaging in paid prioritization of some websites over others. These rules shielded small internet-based companies, and allowed the many innovations we see today. Indeed, one could even say that access to the open internet has created a great time of social mobility - it only takes a bit of coding knowledge and a great idea to move yourself up in the world. Not only that, but through media outlets and other related websites, we have been able to see when our politicians were doing bad things, which has led to a greater amount of openness and transparency in our government.

However, according to OpenSecrets, a site which details finance data for lawmakers, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon has spent a collective total of $45,976,539 lobbying the members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. They have made clear that they would rather see their top executives, already worth billions of dollars, make a little extra money rather than continue a world in which people are allowed to innovate as they please. Additionally, they have also proven to be untrustworthy - they may say now that they would never suppress websites (note that Comcast actually deleted their tweet saying just this) but they also said that they would build a fiber optic connection for the whole United States in the late 90's. However, according to Bruce Kushnick's "The Book of Broken Promises," released in 2014, they never delivered, and simply pocketed the $400 billion dollars given to them in subsidies and tax breaks given to them. While this petition doesn't relate to that, it does show that you simply cannot trust what telecom companies say about anything, much less net neutrality.

Unfortunately, it seems that big cable is winning this fight, and Pai's plan is widely expected to succeed. But we can still save the open internet at the state level. All that needs to happen is for our state legislature to pass a bill enshrining net neutrality protections. If you care about the underdog with the big idea and shining solution, if you care about small businesses being able to survive and thrive, if you care about holding our politicians accountable for the important decisions they make, and most of all, if you care about that one site that agglomerates the cutest cat photos ever, you need to sign this petition. Even if somehow the repeal is voted against by the FCC come December 14th, it is prudent to protect against further attacks by ISPs. So, Mr. Brown and the other members of the California Legislature, please do your job to uphold our rights and protect net neutrality in this state!



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