Bots have gotten a bad rap lately on the internet.
Net neutrality is the premise that all information on the internet is treated equally and that internet service providers should not block or slow down traffic to some sites in favor of others.
The five FCC commissioners will vote Thursday on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which many see as an attack on net neutrality, making Wednesday the 11th hour for the FCC accepting public comment on the proposal.
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At first glance, it might be hard to trust something like Resistbot, but this one is not a smokescreen for the Russians or a conduit for stealing and sending your email address to retailers.
Resistbot is not a form letter internet factory. In a series of simple questions and answers via text or Facebook messages, Resistbot asks users to write their own message and select which officials to which the message needs to be sent. So it’s useful for petitioning elected officials regardless of the issue you’re commenting on.
In fact, Resistbot does not give users the option to send a message to the FCC or its commissioners, who will do the actual voting on net neutrality Thursday – just the elected officials who serve the address the user puts into the prompts.
Really, Resistbot just simplifies the process citizens go through on the “Find Your Elected Officials” portion of the usa.gov website. If you’ve got a hard “trust no bot” internet rule, tracking down your officials there and emailing, faxing or calling personally is still an option.
Other ways to voice support for net neutrality include signing a Change.org petition that will be delivered to the FCC and both houses of Congress or a similar petition from Battle for the Net, the same people behind Fight for the Future.
But FCC spokesman Brian Hart told Wired that the body has received so much of the same feedback (23 million comments in all) that it is now concentrating on reading legal arguments within the public comments, at the expense of most of the general language sent by everyday internet users.
“The purpose of rulemaking proceeding is not to see who can dump the most form letters into a docket,” Hart told Wired. “Rather, it is to gather facts and legal arguments so that the Commission can reach a well-supported decision.”