Well, Seattle residents have spoken. Many of them, anyway, in favor of preserving net neutrality and against creating a two-lane Internet highway in which Internet providers could charge some users more for faster access and connectivity.
The Federal Communications Commission recently released about 1.1 million comments from its first comment period. TechCrunch’s initial analysis found the most-used word by citizens was “Comcast” followed by “Verizon” — and the bulk of what they had to say was not very nice. A second comment period ends on Sept. 10, so go to this FCC link to make your voice heard.
As The Seattle Times editorial board wrote on July 19, May 16, May 11, April 27 and Jan. 15, the open Internet should be preserved and providers should be reclassified as “common carriers” like most other public telecommunication services.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy called on the FCC to leave its echo chamber in the Beltway and hold public meetings around the country. “Most of (those who had commented on the proposed rules online) will not be able to come to Washington to participate in the roundtables that have been scheduled, but their voices are more important than industry lobbyists and members of Congress,” Leahy reportedly wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Great idea. FCC, please come to Seattle.
Local citizens here have plenty to say. In June, Mayor Ed Murray joined with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to pen an op-ed for The San Francisco Chronicle in favor of preserving an open Internet. Here’s an excerpt:
We stand for transparency and believe that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment or mode of communication. We feel that innovation relies on a free and open Internet, one that does not allow for individual arrangements for priority treatment, also known as paid prioritization.
The Verge’s analysis shows Seattle ranked 5th on the list of cities where comments originated, an indicator of its position as a technology hub for start-ups and savvy Internet users. A different analysis of that information by the data analytics firm Quid for the Knight Foundation showed the West Coast is overrepresented in the comments about net neutrality, with Washington ranked 2nd overall.
NPR’s Elise Hu provides some fascinating insight via the All Tech Considered blog, which produced a cluster map based on Quid’s analysis of hundreds of thousands of comments, news stories and tweets. Hu reports the biggest cluster of commenters — 15 percent — said a “‘pay-to-play’ system will harm the diversity of the Internet.”
In a Aug. 11 blog post for the Knight Foundation, Quid Co-founder Sean Gourley and head of intelligence services Sarah Pilewski reported on the six major narratives that have emerged from their research of public opinion on net neutrality:
1. Don’t give us an Internet of haves and have-nots.
2. Higher costs for consumers. “Don’t make me pay more for Netflix.”
3. The FCC is a political organization with too many conflicts of interest.
4. It’s a David and Goliath battle: startups versus cable companies.
5. The Internet is a right and should be treated like utilities such as electricity.
6. There should be no “free lunch” for content providers.