Wikimedia DC statement supporting Senate action to restore Net Neutrality

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

In mid-May of 2018, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on whether to apply the powers of the Congressional Review Act to restore basic Net Neutrality principles. Recent actions by the FCC have undermined the Net Neutrality regulations that were in place, and the Senate can reverse them with this vote.

Wikimedia DC supports this proposed Senate action. The issue of Net Neutrality affects Wikimedia directly. Wikimedia sites link to sources of information, including commercial sources, political sources, and sources that we may as individuals find offensive. The services Wikimedia can offer are worse if statements on Wikimedia sites cannot be verified in the sources because the ISP has blocked or slowed traffic for commercially competitive or political advocacy reasons. Without an Open Internet, Wikimedia projects could not have enjoyed their explosive growth since 2001 and would not exist in their current form as a resource accessed and relied upon all over the world.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may need to constrain Web traffic to avoid transmitting malware and criminal content, and to prioritize during periods of congestion, and that's allowed by either set of rules. The ISPs should not, however, slow down or charge extra fees for flows of information between web sites and users to support their own product competition with those sites, or to constrain the visibility of points of view. Wikimedia DC supports bringing back the rule that prevents that kind of discrimination.

The Wikimedia Foundation has taken the view that the FCC's earlier net neutrality rules "protect[ed] internet users’ access to the internet’s wealth of information and their ability to collaborate via the internet by specifically prohibiting ISPs from discriminating among websites or applications by blocking or slowing some, or prioritizing traffic from others in exchange for a fee."

Free information should be freely available. This is part of our business. The sources of citations on Wikimedia should remain available to Americans without delay or extra costs.

Wikimedia District of Columbia is the official regional chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation in the District, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Delaware. A non-profit educational organization, Wikimedia DC is dedicated to the advancement of general knowledge and the collection, development, and dissemination of educational content under a free license or in the public domain.