The Spokesman-Review: Internet Neutrality Needs Real Protection

By E. Faye Williams

When the Federal Communications Commission repealed President Obama’s net neutrality rules last year, it launched a movement.

Around the country, there is a rising tide calling for permanent new rules to keep the internet open and free. No company should be permitted to interfere with our internet experience by blocking or prioritizing traffic or discriminating against anyone’s ability to participate online. In a digital world, net neutrality is a civil rights imperative – the only way to be sure that all citizens have a full and equal chance to be heard in the new public square.

Like any effective movement for change, if we don’t get the strategy right we won’t end up where we need to go.

That means fighting for strong, permanent net neutrality that will protect everyone online – not temporary half measures or, even worse, inconsistent or incomplete rules that cover some people or states but not others.

That is why local and state based efforts to pass narrow net neutrality for one city or one state are a mistake. While efforts to channel grassroots energy for net neutrality into local rules like the current legislative push in Olympia or the effort by a handful of mayors around the country to move locally on the issue are well-intentioned, in the end they cannot provide the lasting, enforceable protection for digital participation and equality we need.