The Approval of Net Neutrality legislation for Internet users in Chile.
1. The approval of a robust net neutrality law for our country. Chile became the first country in the world to endorse net neutrality principles in its legislation.
2. Positioning the organized civil society as a valid party for the legislative process.
3. Validating ‘cyber activism’ in front of our government and congress.
4. Establishing several crowdsourcing methods that are still being used by other stakeholders for their own purposes.
5. Informing non-technical users about their new rights, creating a better ecosystem for the IT and telecom business.
6. Informing about the enforcement of the law and taking public actions to reach that goal, including several Congress hearings in which the team was invited to expose the current scenario.
Neutralidad Si!, our civil society group started the discussion about a network neutrality bill in Chile during 2006 and 2007.
In May 2007, we manage to push the first bill to our House of Representatives with the support of several representatives which signed and contributed to the project. Our organization spoke in the House of Representatives and Senate as experts to defend the bill against the public lobby created by the Telecom industry.
NeutralidadSi was the first case in the chilean society of successful crowdsourcing for civil rights as we manage to run a strong campaign – powered by the private activity of our supporters – to convince our congressmen about the importance of the bill.
After the approval of the net neutrality law, part of the team started in 2011 an advertising campaign focused in empowering common people with their new rights.
This campaign reached more than 4 million people and, in another ‘first time event’, was funded by telecommunication companies, as we manage to convince them and the government about the importance of having a “well informed user and consumer”.
In late 2012, part of the Neutralidad Si! team, joined forces with a new team to create NGO Cívico, which started their work focusing on the Net Neutrality Law enforcement.
During 2013, both Neutralidad Si! and Cívico published several official complains against our telecom regulator SUBTEL for dereliction of duty in the law enforcement, which led the Chilean Congress to start a series of public hearings to analyze the case (currently in development).
0. Chile became the first country in the world to endorse net neutrality principles in its legislation
1. Our organization participated in the development of the first bill presented in our House of Representatives in 2007.
2. NeutralidadSi was invited to the House of Representatives as expert spokesman during the discussion of this bill. Later, we participated in the same manners during the discussion in the Senate in a unique case where the cvil society was an active party for the telecommunication legislation in Chile. More info at http://www.neutralidadsi.org/2007/07/12/y-nos-reunimos-con-la-comision-de-tecnologia-de-la-camara/ and http://www.neutralidadsi.org/2009/11/19/estuvimos-en-el-senado-esto-fue-lo-que-se-hablo-en-audio/
3. We ran an extensive crowdsourcing campaign that involved “emailing our representatives and senators”. Each member of the Parliament received thousands of emails asking for support for the net neutrality bill. This ended in a unanimous vote in favor of the law in our House of Representatives, and 30 votes in favor with 1 abstention in our Senate.
Another part of the crowd sourcing campaign focused in branding as many chilean websites we can with net neutrality banners. This campaign led to thousands of websites bearing a “NeutralidadSi.org badge”, which made our website fairly popular among the chilean Internet world.
4. After the approval of the law, we saw the urgency of informing people about the importance of their new rights as Internet users. Since our organization lacked funding for such a task (or any other), we planned to ask the telecommunication companies to pay for this campaign.
The argument we defended was the importance of having a well informed user, and how the telecom business can participate in this process giving their point of view on how the citizens can exercise their rights. On top of that, we contact our government to ask for their support during this endeavour. They agreed with us and entered the work sessions from the first day during the five months of planning.
In December 2011, the first batch of newspaper ads went live.
The campaign ran from December 9th. to December 28th. and published a total of 18 ads based on three different pieces about net neutrality rights, each one published on the top six newspapers with most readers in the chilean territory, reaching more than 4 million readers only in the press, plus thousands of visits to the campaign’s website (www.neutralidad.cl and www.neutralidadsi.org).
The cost of this campaign was USD $200.000, all covered by our own telecom companies in a strange case where the industry pays for advertising that is proposed by civil organizations.
5. In late 2012 and during 2013, both Neutralidad Si! and NGO Cívico started official complains against the telecom operators for net neutrality violations, and later, an official complain in the chilean Congress against the regulator for dereliction of duty in the net neutrality law enforcement. A series of Congress Hearings are taking place to study the complain. (Currently in development – July 2013).
The Internet Access Service business was in a total obscurity during the second half of the last decade. ISPs ran their business with almost no supervision from the authority and that led to several cases of abuse against users and content providers. In that scenario, we saw the network neutrality principles broken by the commercial activity of our ISPs.
The civil society, mostly “left behind” in the discussion of telecom regulation until then, was eager to find a way to express their reject against common practices like port blocking, service blocking, traffic shaping or different types of bandwidth throttling.
We saw the opportunity to push net neutrality principles thru legislation, and manage to use our own ‘angry’ citizens to run a campaign to fulfill our purposes without any source of income or funding for our activities, using only free tools we could find on the Internet, like linking blogs and personal websites with our campaign, or email “waves” for our congressmen.
From the first day until the last, our organization was powered only by the people who use Internet, without receiving any funding for it.
From 2007 to 2010, we mostly used digital press, blogs and other websites to coordinate and inform about the state of our campaigns. Later in 2011, the press advertising campaign gave us exposure to new “non-technical” citizens.
In several occasions, local nation-wide TV channels Interviewed us about the development of the law, which also gave us exposure to common citizens.
Mostly open source software like WordPress and publicly available tools like Google Apps.