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Wireless Internet Monopoly Blocked
In 2004, both the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Mayor Gavin Newsom, announced separate plans to bring free public internet to all San Franciscans.
These moves were crucial because the U.S. House and Senate, under intense lobbying by corporations like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, are pushing outrageous laws that could make it illegal for local communities to install their own public internet systems! It is vital that we avoid this anti-consumer corporate sell-out, and build our own public communications network.
City Department Betrays The Public Trust
But there was a shocking development in Mayor Newsom's plan. In 2006, the agency that Newsom put in charge of his effort (now named the San Francisco Department of Technology) negotiated in secret to hand our new public Internet system to the corporate ownership and control of a Google/Earthlink monopoly partnership.
Google and Earthlink planned to install a cheap, slow, ad based network, when instead, high speed fiber optic lines installed by the City could backbone a 21st century noncommercial internet project, that would give users 100 times better access speed.
In 2006 Our City helped found PublicNet, a local coalition of organizations and individuals working to demand accountability from the Department of Technology, and to win a superior publicly owned internet system for San Francisco.
In August of 2007, PublicNet won the first battle for a local democratic internet, and Google and Earthlink were sent packing. This San Francisco victory was a key factor that helped break the financial viability of, and put a halt to, a nationwide attempt by Earthlink to grab private ownership of community internet systems all over the country.
But there is more to be done...
Imminent National & State Level Attacks On Internet Freedom: Urgent Action Is Needed
The FCC, U.S. Congress, and California State Legislature are all moving quickly to hand the entire U.S. internet over to the control of huge corporations in much the same way that radio and television were surrendered to vast media conglomerates in the early 20th century. Such private domination of media has already dealt a serious blow to democratic free speech. Loss of internet freedom would be even more devastating.
San Francisco must set the standard for the world, that the internet belongs to the people, not a handful of stockholders and CEOs out to hold it hostage for profit.
What You Can Do
Email SF Supervisors
Click on and then send to:
The Board Supervisors
the following sample, or your own composition...
Sample Letter For A Publicly Owned Internet:
Please reject all private monopoly franchise deals for local public internet service, and instead build a fast, free, and publicly owned fiber optic and wireless communications network for San Francisco.
[Insert your name and street address here.]