From Net Neutrality to Public Internet


In January 2018 “Net Neutrality” was on everyone’s minds. Our goal for this meeting was to shift our thinking about net neutrality away from liberal tech regulation and toward the conflict between public and private ownership of the internet infrastructure.


  1. Backbone Bullies. An oldie but goodie for understanding some of the outcome of the public vs. private tension in the earlier days of the internet.

  2. Nationalize the Networks. By Evan Malmgren, writer and Tech Action member. Making the case for public internet ownership.

  3. Koch Brothers Are Cities’ New Obstacle to Building Broadband. Get a taste for how capital organizes to politically oppose the kind of public internet we want.

  4. Bonus readings:

Discussion questions

  1. We’re interested in going “beyond net neutrality.” But as both an end goal, and political campaign, what what are the pros and cons of the fight for “Net Neutrality”?

  2. Could broadband internet access be seen as a public good?

  3. Why might the left be interested in the infrastructure of the internet (as distinct from the platforms and corporations who currently dominate and mediate our online experience)?

  4. What are some of the advantages to municipal broadband programs?

  5. What role can the federal government play? What might a national campaign for public internet infrastructure look like?

  6. How can the left motivate people to care about public broadband, alongside bread and butter issues like healthcare and income? What can we do to get this issue widely adopted?

  7. How does the fight for Medicare for All compare to a hypothetical fight for public internet?