Imagine pulling out your phone to head to your favorite blog only to be met with a message blocking you from the website. Then your union’s website starts taking forever to load. You call your internet service provider and they tell you that you must pay more of your hard-earned dollars to them every month to access the websites you’ve been visiting for years without charge.
This reality is just around the corner thanks to the GOP-controlled Congress upholding the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality last year. Under the leadership of anti-net neutrality activist Ajit Pai, the FCC repealed its own rules that had only been in place for two years. Millions of Americans spoke up and submitted comments opposing the repeal. The FCC majority ignored public outcry and moved forward with a repeal that will harm everyday people to help the rich get richer. The GOP-controlled Congress upheld that repeal soon after.
The rules that used to protect our right to an open and accessible internet officially came off the books last Monday. The lack of net neutrality effectively turns large corporations like Verizon and Comcast into gatekeepers of a public good: the internet.
Today, California fought back. In a bold strategy to protect millions of Californians, Senators Kevin de Leon and Scott Weiner joined forces to keep net neutrality in California with their bills SB 822 (Wiener) and SB 460 (de Leon):
“Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) announced that they are joining their respective net neutrality bills – SB 822 (Wiener) and SB 460 (de Leon) – to form one unified legislative effort to pass strong net neutrality protections in California. The two bills are being formally linked to one another so that both must be signed into law for either to take effect. The two bills are also being amended to be complementary, creating one unified and robust net neutrality policy – standards that have been described as the “gold standard” for other states to follow.”
California Labor Federation Legislative Director Caitlin Vega underscored the fundamental need for net neutrality for working people:
“Working people deserve an open internet that isn’t subject to censorship at the behest of big corporations and the politicians they bankroll. That’s why net neutrality is so crucially important. If corporations are able to block access to certain sites they don’t like, our freedoms are at risk. We thank Senators Wiener and de Leon for putting this measure forward and protecting access to information through an open internet that benefits us all.”
The GOP-led Congress may be hell bent on helping corporations get richer, but it’s clear that California will fight for our values no matter what. Our commitment to a fair and open internet is another strong example of our power to stand up to corporate greed.