Advocating for the Internet – and Human Potential Online – on Capitol Hill
The following is commentary by Benjamin Young, VP, General Counsel for PEER 1 Hosting, about becoming a member of the i2Coalition.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is no stranger to making headlines. Last week, his decision to spend $19 billion on the acquisition of WhatsApp made it to every news homepage and prime time news station. Even more recently, his appeal to “connect the unconnected” in a Mobile World Congress keynote has made waves as well.
Zuckerberg dedicated most of his keynote appearance to supporting the Internet.Org coalition, which aims to bring Internet access to developing regions in the hopes of improving the global economy and literacy rates. This is not the first time we have heard about this initiative from Zuckerberg, but it certainly has gained more momentum following the acquisition of WhatsApp, which revolves around connectivity. He stressed that “these are just basic services that people should be able to access.”
We couldn’t agree more.
The Internet is the mechanism that people use to learn about the world – its news, its science, its cultures – as well as a tool to positively impact it. Consider the mobilization of previously unheard voices in the Middle East or the opportunity for global citizens to donate directly to remote islands burdened with disasters. These would not be possible without the power of the Internet.
We want to play a role in developing the Internet’s unmatched potential – the human potential, rather – so we are attending the second annual Internet Infrastructure Coalition’s Internet Education Day in Washington, DC this week to speak directly with lawmakers about how they can help power the potential of the Internet.
Much like last year, this event will involve discussions of policy goals for making the Internet accessible to everyone and fostering the necessary infrastructure to support global connectivity. Major players from disruptive start-ups and established global enterprises will contribute to the conversation, as well as those who really understand what it means to use to the Internet to advance society, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Phone2Action. Last year, the event’s attendees united to help educate members of Congress and their staff, as well as to help combat and defeat certain legislative initiatives such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) – incredible work, but we still have far to go before we, as Zuckerberg said, connect the unconnected.
Of course, it will take more than two days to stretch the Internet’s unlimited powers to all corners of the earth, but I look forward to being a part of that movement. It is an honor to be involved in shaping an innovation that reaches far deeper than any other technology created in recent history – farther than just the one-third of the population who can access it.