I have long lamented the slow lingering death of our democracy, stifled by big brother and big business…I wonder if tech that might finally be changing that. Two stories gave me hope this week…both have been around for a good while and you could hardly find more different topics. The first is Net Neutrality.
This became an issue when the supreme court threw out their earlier rulings last year, essentially requiring that the FCC had rule on Net Neutrality or “Open Internet” and in spite of all the lobbying dollars spent by Big Telco they came down on the side of regulating the Internet like water or electricity. Naturally people will still get different service levels depending on what service they subscribe to but your ISP will not (legally) be able to slow down your access to a service because it’s not offered by them or one of their partner companies. In spite of the obvious benefits of this measure the right wing-nuts and the big business they shill for are complaining up a storm that this is government interference. What’s fascinating…even amazing is that the FCC received over four million messages about this issue, the vast majority of which were private individuals expressing support of Open Internet. Four million! The campaign to support Open Internet was waged by all kinds of companies and entities through social media, Podcasts and millions of discussions on thousands of online news stories in a desperate attempt to stop us falling further under the sway of Big Telco… and it worked. technology facilitated the discussion and gave the people a voice.
At the other extreme end of the spectrum recreational Marijuana was legalized (after a fashion) in Alaska and Washington DC this week. In both cases the “powers that be” fought the measures tooth and nail, even threatened to jail the mayor of DC if it passed. Unfortunately the ground swell of people who are sick to death of being told what they can and can’t do by an over bearing militarized police state carried the day. Like Marriage Equality the corrupt right wing, big business religious bigotry which has held sway over so much of our history is coming up short because with social media and the increasingly fragmented media they can no longer control the message or the media. We can expect to see prison reform next on the agenda.
It’s fascinating to see that just as social and new media has driven the democracy campaigns across the Middle East and Asia the very same channels are allowing people in America to register their protest and make their voices heard. God Bless The USA….and Twitter.