Given the internet’s central importance to modern life, should the Federal government base users’ protections on an 85-year-old law meant for rotary telephones? Or a 23-year-old law passed when it took 30 seconds to load a page and there was no such thing as social media or video streaming and Google didn’t even exist? The answer to both questions is a resounding “no.”
These outdated laws do nothing to ensure a fair and open ecosystem for all digital content and services. The very openness that has enabled Asian-American voices to thrive online, raise awareness of issues that impact us, and build a stronger sense of community is now threatened by the giant tech companies that have become the gatekeepers of the internet. That is why it is incredibly vital that Congress act swiftly to pass a comprehensive net neutrality law that ensures no company can use its dominance to interfere with our fundamental human right to be in control of what we do online.
An open internet is about more than just protecting our ability to access our choice of websites or applications. With our near-ubiquitous access to the internet, these online gatekeepers are in the position to influence what we see and do on and offline. For example, The Washington Post recently called Google’s popular Chrome browser “spy software” because it allowed over 11,000 advertising cookies to track where we go and what we do online in just a single week. An open internet will encourage greater transparency and protect consumers from any large company attempting to track and shape our online behavior without our knowledge or consent.
Congress urgently needs to update the Federal rules to protect the open internet and our online rights. At a minimum, there needs to be a new open internet law that applies to all online companies – internet service providers, search engines, social media and any other internet company. The new law should set a single, uniform standard of conduct to ensure the internet’s openness is protected and all innovators have a fair shot at succeeding.
Compared with the Asian-American community as a whole, Filipinos have higher average household income, a lower rate of poverty, and significantly better rates of English proficiency. Internet access helps support these social and economic developments, and so much more. Preserving and advancing these positive gains will require new consumer protections. This is especially important given the growing power that large online companies have over what we see and do online.
There’s a lot at stake for our community, which is why the ongoing debate in Congress over new Federal internet rules is so important. Every part of our lives is touched by the internet and no one doubts that an open Internet is crucial – especially to marginalized and vulnerable people. Congress desperately needs to modernize our open internet laws, but it must do it right. That means protection across internet products and services – no exemptions and no special favors. Our rights and safety online is too important for inaction.