Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Last Stand for Web Neutrality. FCC votes Thursday to destroy protections. Dec 13 2017
UPDATE... the death of net neutrality... THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2017...
The nonpartisan organization Common Cause released a statement from Aimee Martinez, their Digital Strategist.
IF YOU HAVE ONLY A MINUTE, READ THE THIRD PARAGRAPH AND THE LAST PARAGRAPH, BOTH MARKED WITH A "*"...
The Common Cause statement reads, in part:
"Just moments ago, Ajit Pai’s FCC decided in a 3-2 vote to destroy the vital protections that keep the internet open and free from corporate control. They just gave big internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon total control over what we can do and say online.
"It’s a major setback, but it’s not going to stop us. Even if the FCC won’t listen to us, or to the millions of people who took the time to submit public comments, there are other ways to win this fight.
* "We are immediately calling on Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to roll back Pai’s attack on Net Neutrality. There will also be a prolonged court battle over the FCC’s new rules -- and Common Cause will be there to support that legal effort by any means possible. And we'll work state by state and legislator by legislator to limit the consequences of the FCC’s politically-driven decision.
"We can't give up now. In fact, what I’ve seen over the past few months has only made me more determined -- it’s been nothing short of inspiring how Common Cause Members... have stepped up for Net Neutrality.
"Together, we’ve submitted millions of public comments, placed thousands of calls to Congress, and taken to the streets with events at over 700 Verizon stores for last week’s massive day of action.
* "Through this vote today, the FCC is saying that what the majority of people living in this country wants doesn't matter. But you and I know that isn't true. We won't stand by and let these big internet providers like Verizon and Comcast charge us extra fees, limit our speeds and what content we can access. Net Neutrality is the fundamental protection of a level playing field online that we all rely on to connect, organize, and mobilize with each other, and together, we can restore it."
OUR VIEW FROM HERE after the FCC gave the web to the fat-cats, and WHERE WE GO
Here at the Acoustic Americana Music Guide, we have been advised by internet guru friends that we, as an online indie publication, are NOT SAFE.
Our cyber experts tell us
(a) we likely will no longer appear in most web searches, and
(b) we should expect to be regarded by big ISPs as "Part of the clutter of small sites that clog-up traffic," providing their rationale for BLOCKING us unless we bribe them not to.
That is, of course, relevant to YOUR site as an indie artist, or other sites you enjoy accessing.
You may think you're safe because your "site" is part of something bigger, so, all in all, you're just another brick in the wall. Think again.
Our site has a Blogspot address, which became a Google-owned property long after we moved here. That MAY seem to make us safe, but it doesn't. At the heart of things now? We, and millions of other independent websites, are not safe under the new FCC paradigms because Ajit Pai has placed the primacy of money and profit ahead of everything else on the web in the U.S.
We, at the Guide, DO NOT and WILL NOT bribe Google for our site to continue to appear in its search results. The number of user visits to our site have ALWAYS brought us top-three search-result position. Well, not quite always -- we are very aware that some of our editions, with "certain content," do not appear AT ALL in Google searches. Even though using the exact same words with OTHER search engines bring-up the short descriptions and links for those editions.
Specifically, those include editions in which we endorsed Bernie Sanders for President, and editions in which we advocated third-party alternatives to the corrupt corporate partisan duopoly. So Ajit Pai IS correct to the extent that he cites the internet as a place that has ALREADY been censored, filtered, limited and blocked in what you can access; of course, his actions as FCC Chair make those very things worse -- literally millions of times worse.
WE JOIN WITH COMMON CAUSE IN CALLING ON CONGRESS TO USE THE CONGRESSIONAL REVIEW ACT TO ROLL BACK PAI’S ATTACK ON NET NEUTRALITY.
Further, we call for something radical:
If the internet is to be accepted as the equivalent of "The Great Library of Alexandria," then it must not be controlled by corporate capitalism. Period.
What do you pay to get a library card? Oh, that's right, it's FREE, isn't it? And using the library does NOT cause you to be tracked, marketed-to, forever followed everyplace else you go because you used the library, or charged for being in the library, browsing the book shelves, sitting down to read anything in particular, or making a copy of some information you want to take with you.
THAT is the same model that must be applied to the internet.
We advocate for FREE broadband wifi internet access for ALL, on the same model as the way your taxes provide public libraries.
It's that simple.
It's already the case in a few American cities AND in a far-flung rural areas. Chattanooga, Tennessee is a perfect example. Everyone in Chattanooga, including visitors, has FREE access to broadband wifi. And if that small Southern city can do, it can be done EVERYWHERE.
Of course, advocating that is a declaration of war against the corporate capitalism that thinks NOTHING should be free. Their philosophy has been abundantly demonstrated in today's FCC vote, and in countless other examples of exploitation of public need to produce profits. The chairman of Nestle has proclaimed that access to clean drinkable WATER should not be free, because, he says, "It is not a right, and if you want water, you should pay for it."
(That quote came during the worst phase of the California drought, when it was discovered that Nestle was pumping California aquifers dry for bottled water that it was exporting for sale. Draining an underground water basin creates a "tragedy of the commons," since we all need water. Now we are faced with calls from the current administration to roll-back human-health protections of the federal Clean Air Act to enable a wholesale return to burning coal, even as there are maneuvers in Congressional committees to remove tax supports for clean and sustainable energy, including solar and wind. It's another tragedy of the commons, and a thumbing of the nose at all the science that cites greenhouse gas proliferation as THE principal cause of global climate change.)
Want more? Look at what happens after every major natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. It's called "Disaster Capitalism," wherein public property, taxpayer-owned assets, facility, and public lands, are demanded by and given to private, for-profit corporations in return for their promises to play a role in restoring damaged infrastructure. Hence, you see the end of public schools in New Orleans, and a few for-profit charter schools that are subject to closure if they don't make the money that their corporate, non-educator, masters decree.
What's that got to do with today's FCC decree?
Any way we turn, we are entering a new Gilded Age of the mega-rich who, all too often, have purchased politicians to benefit THEM at the expense of everyone and everything else. We see it with the current so-called "tax-cut" legislation that gives the rich a free ride, even as public education and public health suffer tragically from under-funding. How blatantly in-your-face must it be? Today, just three individual Americans -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos -- have as much wealth as HALF the nation's population. That's usually cited as "the poorest half" of America's population. Which, all by itself, speaks volumes about where we are and the direction in which we are headed, even as corporations kill unions and move jobs overseas, where slave-labor conditions, an end of worker safety regulations, shoddy materials, and lousy quality control standards combine to give us no American-made alternative to the crap in Wal-Mart.
Because we just made statements like the paragraph above, we expect that the corporate-empire algorithms and A.I. bots will keep this edition from appearing in cyber search results. At least on browsers controlled by the megagiant corporate kleptocrats. It would be more certain that happens if we can add more; like, that Verizon and AT&T are among the greediest cadre of kleptocrats who bought political influence to kill net neutrality in today's bought-and-paid-for FCC vote. So let's make sure we include that statement, too.
As you can see, we do not self-censor to hide from their wrath. F-'em.
That's not an emotional rant. It is very intentional and purposeful. Because if we are to be true, as Americans, to the things we tell the world about ourselves -- that we believe in the primacy of democracy and that the will of the people should prevail, with justice and due process for all -- and that PEOPLE are more important than CAPITAL, and that corporations are NOT some kind of exempt and immortal entities with a right to unending appetites to devour everything, even our water and air, and that corporations are NOT PEOPLE -- then we must keep fighting.
Finally, we'll go from the universal "all of us" back to the individual example of the Guide. If we find that our readership numbers -- which are very stable over many years -- go into a sudden decline because the corporacratic kleptocrats and their new extortion racket blocks readers from finding us, or accessing our content?
Then we will cease publication and put the time into fighting against fascism -- including corporate fascism -- and fighting FOR Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, and Freedom of Access for ALL whose voices are being hushed, muted, or excluded from the arena of ideas.
Not that we don't already put time into all those things, but if the bastards run us off our little corner newsstand on the web, we'll do even more to give them heartburn. F-'em, and keep fighting.
Below is the original edition,
as published on W
WEDNESDAY, December 13, 2017
SPECIAL EDITION -- just this very important topic / call to action
Time is critical. Your member of Congress can help stop the FCC from rubber-stamping a power grab by a few rich corporations. This is the last stand to save the protections that make the internet a free-range experience, a place to access the world's knowledge and the facts and stats that combine into all those pesky inconvenient truths that annoy the hell out of the vested interests who want to control you. That's not putting it too strong, or exaggerating what's about to happen. How to contact your elected representatives is below the line of "plus" signs ("+ + + + +").
Now, before you blow this off...
Imagine that no one would ever be able to see, or even to find, your lovingly-crafted website, with your music performance clips and videos, your gig list, and all the things you put there to keep your fan base engaged and happy AND to create the critical crossroads for festival and concert bookers to FIND you. That is, they could only find you IF you bribe all the Googles out there to make your site show-up in a web search, and IF you bribe all the big telecoms and every other ISP to allow your site to be accessible to THEIR users. And if you're thinking, "Oh, I'll just do it all on Facebook and social media," you haven't been paying attention lately, because they have all reasserted that THEY own "your" page on their platform, NOT you. (And some of us, including music publications like this one, refuse to do ANYTHING with social media, so your "Facebook-only" presence is already invisible and inaccessible to us, anyway.)
Plus, one more thing to consider before you blow this off...
We know, and we AGREE with you that there's waaaay too much exploitive BS and baloney about what's happening with this whole internet-apocalypse thing. We're getting multiple emails each day that blatantly lie about what this means and who is responsible for it. For the record, FCC Chair Ajit Pai, who is a snake oil salesman for the big telecom companies from which he came (he was a well-heeled, overpaid top Verizon exec), is, nonetheless NOT a self-serving corporate hack brought in by Trump. He is a self-serving corporate hack brought in by Obama and promoted by Trump. So let's get off the toxic Trump train and focus on WHAT WE CAN DO.
Look, we are ALL being inundated by politics that masquerade as saving humanity or even saving the planet. Even while the NEED to save humanity and save the planet are very real and increasingly immediate, we're being exploited in shakedowns for pocket change to be the only ones standing between paradise lost and oblivion. And it's pretty damned annoying.
BUT CONSIDER THIS... the proposed control of the internet -- by rich and powerful interests -- will make it even more difficult for the rest of us to get the knowledge, information, tools, and contacts we need, if we ARE to have any chance of being effective -- in ANY effort to oppose the self-appointed controllers who want to decide for us "what is news" and what we are allowed to access... on the basis of what is profitable for them.
The FCC's internally-generated "changes" were, in fact, written by the power brokers for the supposed regulator / protectors to inflict on us.
Those changes are scheduled to go into effect -- with a simple vote by the FCC Board on THURSDAY.
If that happens, then let's look at what it means for all of us:
At the very least, internet access will become expensive, with dirt-road speeds the cheapest, and costs that get ever-higher if you want the cyber autobahn.
Moreover, it will be problematic, and maybe even impossible, to:
a) find multifaceted, even conflicting, information from a variety of sources, because anything that challenges corporate Big Media and corporate profit-motivated propaganda can simply be blocked or constrained in so many ways that it's functionally impossible to interact with those "subversive" sources.
b) access, and even FIND, alternative media that is not controlled by self-serving corporate interests -- much less any media or site that is anti-corporate, anti-war, anti-war-spending, anti-Big-Political-Party, anti-oligarch, anti-plutocrat, and anti-kleptocrat.
c) find any way to know about and support things like Native American uprisings and resistance to treaty-violating tar sands pipelines through their reservation lands, or find information about resistance to any fracked-oil poisoning that adds to corporate profits.
d) conduct ANY online search for ANYTHING and expect to get the range and variety of results that were always available to you before.
e) operate a website for your music career with info on gigs you're playing, and as the place to learn about and interact with festivals, venues, and music presenters who want to find you and hire you.
And all because, unless you are able to buy your way into the top tier of search results, you will become invisible because you pay extortion fees to be "available to be found" by any search, under the impending new FCC rules.
THIS IS NOT HOPELESS -- YET...
Grassroots pressure by people like you and me -- pressure to get Congress to stop the FCC -- is starting to work: FIVE Republican members of Congress have already spoken out against Pai's plan to give control of the internet to Big Corporations. Those five Republicans have joined widespread Democratic opposition. (ref 1)
IF we can get more members of Congress to come out in favor of a bill to PROTECT net neutrality, THAT can prevent the Pai scheme from killing it. But only if we turn up the pressure, and do so (literally) RIGHT NOW.
A new poll released by the Washington Post on Tuesday (yesterday) reconfirms we have the people on our side, in growing numbers:
A full 83% of Americans oppose the FCC's radical plan to hand control of the internet to Verizon and Comcast, et. al.; that 83% majority includes 3 out of 4 registered Republicans. (Ref 2)
Want an actual example where this is going if we don't stop it? On Monday of this week, the powerful Spectrum cable caused all its onscreen guide listings for RT America to be replaced, for approximately 24 hours, by listings in Portugese for something they do not even carry. Not even the time schedules aligned with anything being broadcast. Some wacky error? Hardly. This is just the latest example of Spectrum or its predecessor, Time-Warner, doing something to make RT America obscure or unattractive. (We'll tell you why in a second). Last year, the cable giant repeatedly broadcast the channel for days at a time with no sound. These things have ONLY ever happened to RT America on the cable giant, as part of their bid to cause diminished viewership so they can dump yet another non-corporate news source. They already dropped the excellent France 24 in September, and it is an open secret that corporate America and certain powerful political interests (who have forgotten about Freedom of the Press) want RT America's news coverage and programming gone.
Okay, yes, that's TV. Which is regulated. So when a cable giant pulls that crap, they can be reported, and they must correct what they're doing. Now, imagine your internet losing its audio for sites that are not popular with your corporate provider. Or suddenly needing an esoteric URL where the words have been replaced with Portugese. Of course, as we have cited, under the proposed FCC changes, your ISP could simply block access altogether, or throttle-down delivery of any sites to the point they can no longer carry video, or audio, or graphics -- or music.
We do not want to tell a future generation that we lived in one brief shining moment that was known as the Camelot of the web, before the darkness of feudal hegemony descended and gave full control to the rich and powerful. We figure you probably feel the same about that.
+ + + + +
CALL or EMAIL your Member of Congress and your state's TWO US Senators. Here's how:
✔ You can contact your MEMBER OF CONGRESS by using your postal zip code, at:
✔ And contact the two US SENATORS representing your state, at:
Or, call: 424-363-4877, and the coalition of organizations will connect you to the offices of your lawmakers.
WHEN YOU CALL, FEEL FREE TO CHOOSE from any of the following points to make your script when talking to them --
Just introduce yourself, be polite, and say why you are calling. The congressional staffer may want your address.
If you email use the same points and be sure to include your address.
a) "I support 'Title Two' net neutrality rules and I urge you to oppose the FCC's plan to repeal them. Specifically, I'd like you to contact the FCC Chairman and demand he abandon his current plan, and enact legislation giving Congress the authority to repeal these protections so we do not face this kind of threat again."
b) "The U.S. public overwhelmingly supports net neutrality, regardless of political affiliations. Now, we’re hearing that key lawmakers are considering taking action to slow Pai down — but they need to hear more from constituents to push them to act. That’s why I'm contacting you, because you are supposed to represent ME in washington."
c) "Net neutrality is the core principle that protects our free speech on the internet, and ‘Title II’ of the Communications Act is what provides the legal foundation for real net neutrality. Without strong Title II net neutrality rules, Big Cable companies like Comcast and Verizon will be able to block, censor, and control what we see and do online."
d) "If implemented, the plan from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to end net neutrality would be catastrophic for the open internet."
e) "Without net neutrality, the Internet will look more like cable TV — where the content we see is controlled by corporations like Comcast and Verizon. We can’t afford to see the internet—a place where the exchange of ideas, democratic participation and the ability to organize has flourished—turn into cable TV."
f) "Now is the time for YOU, as my elected representative, to stand up against this plan to destroy net neutrality — which would kill free expression and innovation online. Stand with your constituents, not with Comcast."
g) "As your constituent, I urge you to strongly and publicly oppose Pai’s plan to end Title II net neutrality protections."
h) "If Pai gets his way and ends net neutrality, Big Cable companies -- like his old employer Verizon, as well as Comcast and AT&T -- will be able to slow down and block websites, or charge sites extra fees to reach an audience — fees that will get passed directly to people like ME."
i) "Big Cable will be able to curtail free and open expression on the internet. This will affect online campaigning, especially among communities of color, who also rely on online media to share their stories."
If we flood Congress with our calls and emails, there’s a chance we can still stop the corporate power-grab by their lackey, FCC Chair Ajit Pai, on behalf of Big Cable. But if you want your voice to be heard, you must act before the FCC Board votes to destroy the open internet on December 14th.
SO... Call Congress to let your lawmakers know you want them to publicly oppose Pai’s plan to destroy net neutrality.
Sources cited above:
1. Demand Progress, "Congressional Republican opposition to Pai’s net neutrality rollback mounts," Dec. 12, 2017.
2. Washington Post, "This poll gave Americans a detailed case for and against the FCC’s net neutrality plan. The reaction among Republicans was striking," Dec. 12, 2017.
3. Not specifically cited, but some info above, including points for making calls to Congress, comes from several organizations, including Climate Hawks Vote, Demand Progress, Common Cause, The Center for Media Justice, AFI, Free Press Action Fund, # Love Army, Open Media, The Nation, People for the American Way, People Demanding Action, Pen America, Presente Action, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Progressive Congress Action Fund, Roots Action, Sum of Us, and The Zero Hour. These organizations are cooperating with an online petition you can sign, but doing that may put you on one or more of these organizations' e-mail lists; the petition is addressed to your member of Congress. You can find it at: https://savethenetfromtrump.com/
4. The Guide's editor has written about this, in detail, for several publications. You can read his most recent examination of the subject in the L.A. Progressive, at:
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide is waiving its copyright to this edition with one provision, in hopes you will copy and paste this message and share it as widely as possible. That provision is, it must be shared in its entirety, without omission or revision, and any other use constitutes copyright infringement.
Copyright (c) 2017, Lawrence Wines and the Acoustic Americana Music Guide.