Today, we're only going to act on one thing: network neutrality, the principle that demands that internet service providers treat all data moving across a network equally. How does this benefit us, as internet consumers? Well, if we make all data move across networks at the same speed, the internet service provider can't favor network traffic it likes better, and that state of affairs leaves you, the internet consumer, in charge of your internet experience. The way things are now, if you can find a website about, say, progressive taxasion, you can get there just as quickly as you can get to some slideshow rating the NFL's best defensive ends. Of course, the big telecom corporations don't like that, because it gets in the way of ensuring they'll always be able to make their unearned billions -- hence their plan to open up new "revenue streams" by making corporations providing internet content pay more for faster service.
But if we allow that, the internet will never be free again. The internet will forever be divided into a "fast lane" and a "slow lane," and the big internet service providers will have no incentive whatsoever to improve service on the "slow lane," which is where all the websites you and I like will be stuck. The only sites that'll get on the fast lane will be big corporate websites because big corporations are the only entities with the money to pay the "fast lane" rates. And that means your internet will be infested with more junk news, more mindless celebrity drama, and more cable news "pundits" screaming at each other like their mamas never taught them any damn manners. The corporate apologists like to say that "paid prioritization" will preserve innovation, but that's precisely the opposite of the truth -- the real innovators on the internet, the Googles and the Daily Koses and the Youtubes and the Facebooks, were not big corporations when they gave their innovations to the world. A big corporation would never have come up with any of those innovative forces, because big corporations -- especially the dinosaurs we contend with in these times! -- care about protecting the status quo, not upsetting it.
The FCC, at least nominally, protected network neutrality until yesterday. Now they plan to allow "paid prioritization" agreements between corporations, though they'll prevent big corporations from actually slowing down or censoring websites -- which, again, means very little when folks won't wait for that better website to load, and thus never discover what it has to offer them. The FCC will also take comments on whether or not they should reclassify broadband providers as public utilities, so they can properly regulate net neutrality, but we've been telling them to do that for years, and I know they're not so stupid they can't hear us. And now would be a good time to make one thing very, very clear: no ordinary American citizens, on either end of the political system, want to lose net neutrality. The only people who want to kill net neutrality are the corporations and their lackey politicians. And their arguments are utter horsecrap. They claim net neutrality is "a solution in search of a problem," when net neutrality's very presence has choked off the very problems they're trying to create! They claim net neutrality equals big government control, when it is not Big Gummint overreach to prevent corporations from controlling your internet experience for their own ends, any more than it's "anti-freedom" to stop people from murdering one another or burglarizing other folks' houses. One absolute gobsmacking idiot, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, actually referred to net neutrality as "socialism" the other day; when you call something "socialism" in these times, you've lost the argument.
But though these fools have lost the debate, they may yet impose their will on the American citizenry, simply because they have money and because the "liberal" media enables their venality and stupidity. That only means we have to speak louder, and a number of organizations will help you do that. Both CREDO and Demand Progress help you tell President Obama to keep his campaign promise to be "second to none" on net neutrality, lest we find net neutrality to be yet another area in which "second to none" means "second to Bush." Free Press helps you tell Mr. Wheeler to throw out his proposal and reclassify internet service providers as a public utility. You can still call Mr. Wheeler's office at 1.202.418.1000, or use the tools in the upper left-hand corner of this page to call and/or write your House Reps and Senators. You're not a "slacktivist" if you do any of these things; you are doing your job as a citizen, to convey your will to your elected representatives, which number includes your President and the people he appoints in the Executive branch.
If you despair (because who doesn't?), note well that corporations have wanted to kill net neutrality for well over a decade, and the only thing that's stopped them is us. Only a wall of united citizens can stop evil; we've been stopping evil a long time, and we'll have to stop it a long time still, until we draw our last breath having inspired those who'll carry on after us. But we can do it. We must do it. And we will do it.