Letter to My Representatives and the FCC on Net Neutrality

For years, I was lead developer of WordPress, the software that runs almost 30% of the web. From two servers, four people, and some of our own cash, we bootstrapped and built Automattic, a 600 person company that releases open source software, for free, to the world. I have worked with folks from all over the planet to bring communicative, collaborative tech to all.

We global collaborators understand that killing net neutrality is bad for society. It harms tech innovation and compromises civil rights. The policies proposed by Commissioner Pai encourage fake news and misinformation. They favor fake competition and lock out upstarts and consumer-friendly companies like ours. They exclude and diminish activist voices at a time they are desperately needed. They roll back not just the 2015 strengthening of net neutrality, but also the basic bans on blocking and throttling that have been in effect since 2005. The three bright-line rules are in jeopardy.

Killing net neutrality imperils the collaborative infrastructure that makes projects like WordPress and companies like Automattic possible. The internet is not the fiefdom of big media companies and ISPs. It is not theirs to carve up. They have no credibility and have earned no trust.

The latest estimates from data scientists put the number of fake pro-repeal comments sent to the FCC at around 1 million. The FCC, according to AG Schneiderman and others, has refused to engage with those trying to determine who is co-opting our identities and manipulating our systems. This lack of curiosity is redolent of the Trump administration’s refusal to take algorithmic meddling in our elections seriously. This blasé disregard is shared by all of my Republican representatives.

Infosec professionals and everyday citizens using social media see the bot armies at play. We see the manipulation of our democracy. Take this seriously. Cooperate with AG Schneiderman.

Protect network neutrality. If ISPs cannot be good faith common carriers, if they need bot armies to cover up the massive unpopularity of their anti-competitive, anti-consumer ideas, cast them from the safety of our harbor. Let them indemnify themselves if they think they owe nothing to the collaborative commons that build the engines and scaffolding of modernity.

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