The 'Bern' and the Internet
Bernie Sanders' stunning success in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, highlighted by what is effectively a victory in the Iowa caucuses this past Monday, provokes serious thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like.
Were he to take office, he would be doing so at a moment where the human race is considering the possibility of its extermination and thinking about ways to survive. In that conversation about survival, the Internet takes part of the center stage. It is not only a critical tool for education and information on our present and future but the communications tool in the struggle to have a future.
It is here that Sanders can mark his progressive territory because the Internet is so important to people's lives and our movements of struggle. If Sanders is serious about this "political revolution" he talks about and has yet to really define, we're going to need the Internet to make it happen.
So the question is how good are Bernie's politics on Internet issues. The answer is better than any other candidate's. On issues of the Internet, Bernie is a vocal and public supporter of the Internet's progressive movement but he's not yet a leader. Whether he becomes a leader may impact the Internet's freedom and, in the process, his own presidential aspirations.
There are three major Internet issues that every candidate must take up: net neutrality, universal access and privacy. These define not only how we use the Internet (and how much we can use it) but what communications in our future world will look like: a question whose answer will define what our world looks like.
None of the candidates speak much about these issues except Sanders and that alone makes him unique and way ahead of his opponents. That his positions and statements reflect progressive thinking on almost all the issues makes him even more attractive.
Sanders has been an advocate of Net Neutrality since the issue seriously arose.
To quickly summarize, net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data that travels on their networks equally. You pay for your connection -- and usually the amount you pay defines your connection's speed -- and then everything that flows into your computer should flow at that speed. If there's a variation, it should be due to network conditions, traffic or some other act of god or technology but never an outcome of a company policy. No website is allowed to pay more to stream content faster.
The principle (which the FCC made law last year) protects smaller websites since, without net neutrality, content providers could be charged for speed. Larger sites would be able to pay while smaller ones (like This Can't Be Happening!) probably wouldn't. We'd be the turtle in the race and soon enough our readers would suffer slowdowns and traffic jams. Our content and that of most websites would be punished.