Why Greenpeace Supports Net Neutrality, and you should too

by David Pomerantz

June 9, 2014

Its 2017. A small environmental group wants to launch a new web site that empowers people to use their phones to find and report hidden sources of pollution in their communities. The online tools take the world by storm, allowing regular people access to new information about how coal plants or fracking wells are wrecking their water and air, and catalyzing massive political change.

Except that never happens, because the group, which has a brilliant idea, but shallow pockets, cant afford to access the internet fast lanes that Comcast and AT&T have started providing to websites who can pay more for them. So instead, the companies who can pay to get content up on the fast internet, like Shell and Exxon, get to keep pumping their ads for oil and gas in front of online videos on the fast internet, but activists and start-ups have to run their content on a slower internet that never gets nearly the same audience.

The above scenario could become reality if we dont preserve net neutrality the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Net neutrality has been a bedrock principle of the Internets development to date, and is a big part of what has made the internet such an important force for democracy, as it creates a level playing field for everyone.

At Greenpeace, we think the internet should be open, free and green. Thats why we have spoken out against illegal NSA internet surveillance and joined allies insuing the NSA over its program. Its also why were pushing for companies topower the data centers behind the internet with renewable energy, instead of polluting coal and gas.

We want our supporters to know that we see net neutrality as crucial for a healthy environment too. If you agree with us, nows the time to take action.

The FCC, which regulates internet service providers, is considering a plan that would allow internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to give better access to websites that pay a fee to reach users faster.

If those content providers are allowed to create that kind of a pay-to-play internet, it will inherently bias the internet toward large corporations, and thats a big problem for the environment.

To slow down global warming, start a clean energy revolution, preserve our forests and oceans, grow sustainable agriculture, protect human rights or promote peace for all of these issues and more, we need individuals and communities to prevail over corporations.

The internet is a key tool for communities in those fights. It connects people across continents and down the street, amplifies the voices of people impacted by environmental degradation, and helps communities take action to defend against the corporate pillage of land, air and water. It is impossible to imagine Greenpeace being as effective as we are in a world where the Internet has become a pay-to-play game, and its even harder to imagine the continued growth of thousands of smaller groups or networks with no budgets who form the environmental movements lifeblood.

The Internet has been such a powerful tool because it has for the most part been one of the last bastions of democracy where people can share, communicate and connect on an even playing field with corporations. That internet is worth fighting for, and you can do something about it.

The FCC is taking comments from the public now, and has been sensitive to public pressure in the past. They need to hear from you.

Add your voice to the people trying to preserve an open, free internet with our allies at theElectronic Frontier Foundation andFight for the Future.

We can have an internet that is open, free and green, and helps us build the environmental movement and protect our communities against corporations. But we will have to fight for it. Join that fight with us now.

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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