1. This term denotes the companies or other entities that provide content, applications, or other online services over the Internet. Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, or YouTube are among the most prominent edge providers, but the term also applies to the tens of thousands of other operations, large or small, that provide Internet content. The FCC states, the term edge provider is used because operations such as these “generally operate at the edge rather than the core of the network”—the latter being the domain of ISPs, transit providers, and related entities (2010, December 23). [return to page 1]
2. In contrast, in the European context there is a greater willingness to argue that an ability to freely send and receive messages through electronic media channels is a fundamental human right and need, rather than a mechanism of democracy.
3. See, for instance, the Associated Press’s 2007 investigation of Comcast’s slowing of BitTorrent users’ data.
4. A survey in 1926 “determined that approximately one-half of U.S. stations were operated to generate publicity for the owner’s primary enterprise, while one-third were operated by nonprofit groups for eleemosynary purposes. Only 4.3 percent of U.S. stations were characterized as being ‘commercial broadcasters,’ while a mere one-quarter of U.S. stations permitted the public to purchase airtime for its own use” (McChesney 1993:15). [return to page 2]
5. “The cycle” is not limited only to whether or not net neutrality exists. In recent years our Internet experience has dramatically changed in ways that illustrate that “the cycle” is already well underway—changes that would likely be accelerated and deepened by an end to net neutrality. Eli Pariser argues, “What was once an anonymous medium where anyone could be anyone… is now a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data” (2011: 6). Social media companies seek to hold our online attention at all costs, so our "eyeballs" can be sold to advertisers. Following revelations about the influence of fake news and foreign-originated misinformation during the 2016 election, we have witnessed in recent months widespread public and governmental concern about how our online experience has evolved—particularly with regard to the role social media companies play as information brokers. It is troubling that at a time when there is a growing awareness that social media companies are in need of effective oversight, moves are afoot to dismantle net neutrality, thereby allowing ISPs to become equally irresponsible information brokers—as they put profits ahead of U.S. society’s need for open, democratic and democracy-serving communication.
6. In the mass campaign mobilized in support of net neutrality during 2017, the involvement of the biggest Internet companies was more subdued than in the past and “Instead of forceful pleas from their executives, like those in years past on this issue,” they largely expressed their opposition to Pai’s plan “through their trade group, the Internet Association” (Kang 2017, November 28). In their place, more recent start-ups, including such well-known ones as Airbnb, Twitter and Reddit took an active role in warning regulators that an end to net neutrality would hurt innovation and the economy (Kang 2017, November 28).
7. When the period for submitting public comments to the FCC closed in August 2017, over 20 million comments had been submitted. However, while legitimate submissions overwhelmingly showed support for net neutrality, the FCC’s comments system had been targeted by a “spambot” that sent massive numbers of identical anti-net neutrality comments “using the identities of people who have no idea their names have been attached to these comments” (Cox 2017, May 10).
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8. Media scholars Robert A. Hackett and William K. Carroll propose the term “democratic media activism” (DMA) to describe all strands of communications activism. They define DMA as a “force of media democratization, which comprises efforts to change media messages, practices, institutions and contexts (including state communication policies) in a direction that enhances democratic values and subjectivity, as well as equal participation in public discourse and societal decision-making” (2006:84).
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