In Major Victory for #NetNeutrality, FCC Votes to Classify Internet as Public Utility

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In a hotly-anticipated vote, the FCC decided today to classify internet service as public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The 3-2 vote (which was split down party lines) drew the attention of progressives and net neutrality activists — including me — who urged the FCC in a series of campaigns to vote in favour of a Title II reclassification.

Title II reclassification is generally agreed to be a critical step in protecting net neutrality by establishing guidelines that would prevent major cable and internet providers from (in essence) messing with internet service in order to earn money. The new classification prohibits cable providers from, for example, establishing fast internet service for premium customers, and relegating customers who can’t or won’t pay extra for fast-lane access to significantly slower download speeds.

Title II reclassification was bizarrely opposed by many major civil rights organizations — including several high profile Asian American groups — perhaps because major cable providers such as Comcast are prominent donors to these organizations. But Title II reclassification is a boon for all digital citizens, and in particular those of us who rely on a (free, open) internet to amplify otherwise marginalized voices.

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#MyInternetIs a civil right, and it must be free. | #NetNeutrality

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For over 12 years, the internet has been an intellectual companion, and a forum wherein I have shaped my activist thought. Although I found my way to Asian American activism through offline work, it was my online activities that have been largely responsible for who I am as an Asian American activist today.

My earliest political opinions — and my commitment to the importance of debate in shaping political opinion — were forged on highly-active Asian American message boards like YellowWorld.org (edit: holy crap — it is still online and someone even posted something this year!), which served as social hubs for the Asian American community throughout the early 2000’s. Over the years, my Reappropriate blogging self became a digital alter-ego, and this blog served as a space for the exploration of Asian American social justice thought — both for myself and for others. Today, I feel hyphenated in more ways than one; not only do I exist with the hyphenated racial identity of an Asian American, but I also feel as if my fundamental sense of self has become a hybrid of my real-life and my online presence.

For me, the role of the internet as a tool for radical consciousness-building cannot be understated. I would not be who I am without access to this digital space, and the freedom to cultivate new (and oftentimes revolutionary) ideas.

Today, that freedom is being jeopardized. Today, we are on the brink of legislation that would shackle the internet, and in so doing, make it fundamentally less free.

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