Celebrating Net Neutrality at the Internet Archive

On Feb 26, 2015, I visited the Internet Archive (IA) in San Francisco the evening after the Internet became a utility by federal law. IA had a party to celebrate the Net Neutrality vote with a crowd of librarians, archivists, tech visionaries, activists, lawyers, and journalists. People enjoyed pizza and beer and conversation before hearing presentations addressing the significance of the win. I chatted some then picked up our drives, my own work and the videos the XFR Collective digitized during 2014. In the auditorium, the entertaining Jason Scott emceed a program beginning with a 13 minute clip John Oliver on web access and web overlords. If you haven’t seen it, watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpbOEoRrHyU.
Live and in person, we heard from organizations striving for ten years to guard the Internet against becoming a divided highway favoring Com Cast, Verizon, Time Warner and so on. Organizer Julia Graber of Free Press kicked it off as in “rally.” Corynne McSherry, the Intellectual Property Director of EFF, spoke to fair access to the Internet as an essential service, that it was built on neutral principles, and how necessary it is to keep a sharp eye on the FCC, stay engaged in the fight, and promote competition so we can vote with our own wallets and have more democracy. She pictures utilizing many miles of dormant dark fiber and underlines the need for more local broadband. Jay Nath, the Chief Innovation Officer of the City of San Francisco, highlighted Mayor Lee’s meeting with the FCC. Organizer Helen Grieco of Common Cause conjured more democracy. Cayden Mak, New Media Director of 18 Million Strong, appreciated how a ten year Title II fight has shored up what we have via grass roots organizing which may help protect multiracial civil rights from corporations that do not care. Now that all of these organizations are working together, he asked, “What do we want to build?” He sees responsive platforms, addressing digital divides, mesh networks, and more ahead.
Brewster Kahle, founder of IA and generous poet of politics that sing to our hearts, restated the goal of universal access to all knowledge, then put these plans into the air: how we must suck on and pay for the access, including the backbone and the last mile. He noted the governmental problems making free access giveaway nearly impossible and how IA had worked with the City of Richmond to install towers in high locations to create access. He spoke about Chapel Hill, N.C. where legal over-rulings have occurred in order to deliver free access there. He referred to the bad history of reader privacy, the necessity to protect it and the example of the GCHQ passing the identities of wiki readers to the NSA. He looked ahead to digital management issues, copyright extensions, how too much is locked up, that copyright laws must be reformed. Bitcoin persists under massive attack. We must bake in values and lock the web open! Everyone noted that it would be good to party this night but that the fight would have to begin again in the morning.
Andrea Callard