Ladies <3 the Internet

Since Tuesday, the Web has lit up with reports that the Internet as we know it is dead. Advocacy organizations, policy wonks, beat reporters and lobbyists have weighed in about what this means for Internet users of every stripe.
But what does the Verizon v. FCC decision mean for women, and more specifically women of color and indigenous women?
  • Women’s groups that organize their constituents online? Watch out for censorship. 
  • Organizers that strategize, share information and build community using online tools and applications? Watch out for blocking.
  • Activists that speak out, sign petitions, contact their elected officials and find information at the click of a mouse? Watch out for gatekeepers that control where we go and what we see.
  • Professionals that use email, Internet based phone services and Web browsers to do business? Watch out for increased fees. 
  • Finding content by and for women and girls? Good luck.
While this might sound extreme, Verizon made its intentions clear when it argued the case before the court.
And, its track record on women’s issues is far from stellar. In 2007, Verizon blocked a text message NARAL Pro-Choice America was sending to its own members. Without Net Neutrality, that kind of wireless, text-messaging  censorship can become the norm on wired lines, too. Without rules to prevent discrimination online, Internet service providers are free to choose whose voices are more important and whose views will be heard.
But all is not lost. 
Groups like Women, Action and the Media!, Women’s Media Center, RH Reality Check, New Moon Girls and Women in Media and News (WIMN) are urging the Federal Communications Commission to restore its authority to protect Net Neutrality.  
At Free Press we know that politicians listen when people stand up for good public policy. It’s time to hit the phones, sign petitions, and show the FCC that women are watching – and that we support Net Neutrality.
Sign this petition telling the FCC to restore Net Neutrality, check out our resources and spread the word.
Net Neutrality is part of a larger conversation about the future of our rights to connect and communicate. 
The ultimate goal is fast, affordable, open Internet access for everyone, everywhere. As the FCC has recognized, broadband — or high-speed Internet — is not equally available to everyone in the United States. Access is largely divided along geographic, class, race and gender lines. 
We can’t ignore the fact that many women and girls still don’t have Internet access.  At Free Press, we’re trying to change that.
Original photo by Flickr user Steve Hankins