It makes me rather sad how often I have to write articles like this, but it is important to remember that Internet rights are still under attack. The FCC and Ajit Pai are still angling to remove net neutrality, and on a different front, new legislation has been proposed which may officially legalize spying on American citizens.
The Battle for Net Neutrality Rages on
Whenever one is trying to move an agenda, data is required to back up one’s claims. Naturally, anyone would want to present the data most helpful to their case. However, Ajit Pai has allegedly been cherry-picking his information more than most, pushing ethical boundaries in the process. The comments that Pai has used to defend the dismantling of net neutrality are disproportionately skewed to the “net neutrality laws stifle business” side of the argument.
What is even more disturbing is that the comments Pai has showcased may not have been submitted by humans at all. In fact, over 80% of all comments submitted to the FCC concerning this debate were done so by bots. Only about 17.4% of all submissions were organic, and the rest emanated from various bots. Many of the bots’ comments favor rolling back the pro-net neutrality measures introduced by the Obama administration. Of the organic comments, the vast majority are staunchly in favor of keeping net neutrality alive.
So to recap: An FCC chairman who is against net neutrality is utilizing astro-turf comments written by bots. Great.
USA Liberty Act: The New Way to be Spied on
The USA Liberty Act is a new bill that aims to modify and renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It will address some of the most pressing issues with NSA collection abuses, but it will make bulk collection and sharing of US citizens’ data legal. The use of patriotic and innocuous terms like “liberty” in legislation can almost guarantee that there is something shady going on. This is just the latest assault on individual internet privacy rights, and likely not the last.
Why Does This Matter?
I realize that I may be a broken record about this kind of stuff, but it is massively important that people are reminded of their rights and are aware when they may be threatened. The continued battle against net neutrality may result in Americans giving up their first amendment rights to companies, which could suppress ideas they don’t like by making access to certain parts of the internet painfully and intolerably slow. The renewal of FISA and the USA Liberty Act’s attempt to codify citizens’ data collection infringe on the basic human right to privacy.
While it is easy to become discouraged and disenfranchised, or think that legislators do not seem to care, it is still important that you remind your representatives of your position and that slowly eroding guaranteed rights is not an okay thing to do.