It’s not the best of times to be online, in New York City or anywhere. In Washington, the current administration is dismantling FCC privacy rulesthat would prevent internet-service providers from selling user data. Visitors, immigrants, and others may be asked by customs agents to surrender their social-media passwords at the border. And many of New York City’s poorest residents — who have the most to gain from a steady internet connection — remain unconnected.
These developments run contrary to the internet’s original — and best — nature: a decentralized, level playing field controlled and shaped by individual users, not select corporations and governments. Developments like these also carry major implications. Today, the internet and society are deeply entwined. When the internet’s founding principles are cast aside for profit and control, human rights, inclusion, and equality suffer greatly.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.