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Daily Dot: Why the battle for basic Internet is a human rights issue

Posted by Soledad Vega on Fri, 07/03/2015 - 14:13

In an age where the Internet has become a basic human right, denying municipal broadband is a human rights issue.

Article by Chris Osterndorf for the Daily Dot 

What would you do if you couldn’t log onto the Internet? 

You’re reading this, so obviously that question doesn’t apply to you. But as ProPublica recently reported, approximately 20 states currently have restrictions on municipal broadband in place, thanks largely to aggressive lobbying on the part of the telecom industry to prevent city-run broadband from becoming a reality. The problem with this is that the Federal Communications Commission already ruled that local municipalities are allowed to act as service providers earlier this year. The attorney generals in those states recently filed lawsuits to overturn that ruling and prevent towns in their states from being granted publicly funded Internet. 

Though not immediately evident, what’s at stake here is the function of the Internet on a state-by-state, city-by-city, sometimes home-by-home level. Because denying municipal broadband is a human rights issue, in an age where the Internet has become a basic human right. 

Telecom giants want to continue to sell their services in packages, bundling together as much as they can, in an attempt to make customers pay for more than they want. It’s why you can’t usually subscribe to cable channels on a case-by-case basis. But as more people are relying on the Internet for the bulk of their entertainment—including to watch TV—basic Internet access is becoming telecom’s bread and butter. In fact, Comcast now makes more off Internet than they do off cable.

For successful urbanites, this works fine, and it’s certainly OK for the telecom industry. But for those living in smaller, rural communities, where companies like Comcast don’t operate, other access points to the Internet have to be established. The telecom industry fears that once smaller communities start offering their own broadband, larger cities will do the same. However, even if this does happen, it needn’t automatically make the telecom industry obsolete.

- Read more at the Daily Dot