In response to Republicans’ recent attacks on net neutrality and digital privacy protections at the behest of giant telecommunications companies, the ACLU is calling on local government leaders to establish municipal broadband systems.

“States, cities, towns, and counties should take matters into their own hands by creating publicly owned services that do honor those values and can help ensure an open internet.”
—ACLU report

“Net neutrality and privacy protections are essential for the open internet that has transformed our society. With the Trump administration and for-profit companies abandoning those values, what we’re seeing around the country is that local governments can protect them and provide access for all,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and the principal author of an ACLU report released Thursday.

The report, entitled The Public Internet Option, describes the internet as “a necessity, like traditional utilities such as water and power”; denounces moves by the Republican-controlled FCC and Congress to roll back measures meant to protect consumers from privately-owned internet service providers, or ISPs; and encourages local officials to invest in publicly owned internet infrastructure. It emphasizes the need for internet options that not only protect free speech and privacy, but also are accessible and affordable.

“If the commercial providers are determined to make money by violating the privacy and speech rights of their users, and if some policymakers in Washington are determined to clear the way for them to do that,” the report reads, “then states, cities, towns, and counties should take matters into their own hands by creating publicly owned services that do honor those values and can help ensure an open internet.”

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