Andy Shirtliff: “Net Neutrality is the Most Important Freedom of Speech Issue for the 21st Century”

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Andy Shirtliff: “I will continue to fight for Net Neutrality”

As first printed in the Helena IR

Written by Andy Shirtliff, candidate for Montana Public Service Commission

The internet as we know it is dead. As of Monday, June 11th, 2018 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended net neutrality, effectively killing off public access to a free and open internet. This is a direct attack on our freedom of speech, and I won’t stand for it.

Denying public access to the internet infringes on our rights as Americans.

Net Neutrality is the most important freedom of speech issue for the 21st century.

Net neutrality protects our access to an internet free from paywalls, open to unlimited use without fast-lanes or throttling, and prevents multinational corporate internet providers from imposing pay-to-play fees on users like us Montanans.

But, the powers that be in Washington have stripped us of our freedom of speech rights online, opened the doors to corporate greed, and gave them control over what we say and do online.

Help Andy fight back, donate to Andy’s campaign so he can defend Net Neutrality on the PSC: DONATE HERE

Small businesses are the backbone of Montana’s economy; from our Main Streets and innovative companies to our home-based entrepreneurs and telecommuters; we all rely on access to a free and open internet.

But now, our businesses are at serious risk of being charged more if they do well and have higher sales; effectively punishing success and seriously threatening our economy.

Unfortunately, the current Montana Public Service Commission has sided with Washington, and the corporations again, which will continue to harm our communities and small businesses. Actions and statements made by current commissioners show favoritism to corporations that threaten to charge us more now that net neutrality is dead.

Instead of investing in our communities and siding with our small businesses, the PSC would rather see corporate fat-cats get more of our hard-earned money every time we log on or like a post, rather than protecting our access and our rights.

This is an issue that affects all Montanans.

Helena has several locally-owned internet service providers (ISPs) that employ our friends and neighbors, pay taxes, and provide an affordable alternative to corporate providers. Local Montana ISPs support net neutrality because it’s good for our businesses and our communities. By providing a choice, and promoting competition, we will drive down cost and improve service.

Rural Montana businesses and communities rely on access to the internet more than ever. From our kids’ school work and our family’s healthcare, to keeping in touch with loved ones and keeping up on world events, to running our small businesses; we rely on a free and open internet every single day.

As an economic development specialist for the state of Montana, I have traveled all across our great state, working with communities to find ways of helping us thrive in this new economy without losing our identity.

I know first hand that rural Montana is struggling to retain workforce and keep our businesses alive, but if our access to the internet is limited, throttled, or nickel-and-dimed every time we use the web; then we lose our chance at breathing new life into our communities.

I will always stand with Montanans over out-of-state interests.

As your Public Service Commissioner, I will be your independent voice that the current PSC is sorely lacking, and I will continue to fight for our right to access a free and open internet.

Help Andy fight back, donate to Andy’s campaign so he can defend Net Neutrality on the PSC: DONATE HERE

Andy Shirtliff is a candidate for the Montana Public Service Commission

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