Fight for Fair Web Access in Seattle

seattle-internet-campaign-space-needleBrown Paper Tickets’ Doer, Sabrina Roach is shaking things up in mild-mannered Seattle. She’s leading a grassroots group of community activists, tech-workers and artists in a campaign to make Internet a city-owned utility. The goals are clear: improve speeds, lower prices and allow all residents Internet access.

But the campaign still needs a name and they need you to help choose it. Seattle for Equitable Internet? Internet in Seattle’s Hands? Connecting Seattle? Vote for your favorite or stretch your creative muscles and add your own suggestion. The campaign name will be revealed at a launch party for new Puget Sound radio stations on World Radio Day February 13.

The Need for Internet Speed and Access

“Nearly 20% of Seattle residents do not have any Internet access,” according to a report by the city. In our modern, tech-driven metropolis, that’s more than an inconvenience. Students may not be able to do homework assignments. Job seekers may be unable to apply to or find open positions. Small business owners may struggle against online competitors.

The same city report shows that 45% of Seattle residents who have Internet in the home want better prices. Thirty-three percent want higher speeds than offered by Seattle’s dominant providers Comcast and CenturyLink. Roach’s yet-to-be-named campaign takes a cue from smaller cities that have implemented fiber-based municipal broadband: Cedar Falls, Iowa and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In a recent video, a preview of his upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama points to these two towns as examples of municipal broadband done right. And fast—at 1,000 mega bits per second, both communities’ services are on par speed-wise with Paris and Tokyo.

Although Seattle is considerably larger than Cedar Falls and Chattanooga, it has some of the necessary infrastructure already in place, which would make things considerably easier.  In a January interview with The Stranger, Roach says “there are 550 miles of city-owned fiber-optic cable already in the ground. We just need to connect it to homes and businesses.”

550 miles? Who knew? Help name the campaign or get involved with our Doer’s efforts.

Photo credit: Anupam via Flickr

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Net Neutrality is Freedom

Net Neutrality “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

~ First Amendment, United States Constitution, 1791

Brown Paper Tickets views net neutrality as a protection of constitutional right. If we don’t stand together as citizens of a democratic republic, we won’t be losing our inherited freedoms – we’ll be handing them over. The freedoms our ancestors died for in other countries and in the streets of our own towns are to be cherished and celebrated, debated and defended.

While corporations may now be citizens and attempt to rule our country through plutocrats and puppetry, ours is not a country for sale. The Internet is an element of nearly all new business. It is the core of communication, assembly and organzing. How can anyone pretend the throttling of freedom is American?

Capitalism is our market choice, not our government. In our already tilted field of citizenship, where corporations run buckshot over individuals’ freedoms, proposing control and limits to the Internet is like asking a recovering patient to share an artery to help out a drunk.

We believe in the power of people to gather around a common passion, interest or cause. We serve tens of millions of event organizers and ticket buyers. Equal load times and unbiased access to digital content is what makes the Internet democratic. Anyone can tap the Internet to innovate, share, organize, learn, grow, communicate, entertain and that beautiful freedom has become a way of life.

The Internet is one of the fertile fields from which our great democracy grows anew. The place where we fight to improve our lot. And the place where we plant our dreams. It is quite possibly one of the only great democratic tools left to citizens. Do not fetter what is now an unfettered freedom of speech and access. Keep neutral what is essential for the good of humanity.

Brown Paper Tickets democratized access to ticket services back in 2000, offering event organizers free online tools to sell event tickets with fair ticket buyer service fees. Why? Because everyone has the right to gather and the right to wild and weird and funky fantastic experiences free of economic barriers and digital obstacles.

Keep the web wild, weird, fair and free.

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