This piece first appeared in The Washington Post.
If the Facebook privacy debacle has shown one thing, it’s that technology companies have become immensely powerful and seemingly accountable to no one. Recent federal rollbacks of net neutrality and online privacy protections have put Americans in an even weaker position when dealing with Internet service providers.
But there is a way for the public to push back: through Internet service provided by local governments, which are directly accountable to citizens.
As the chief information officer for Concord, Mass., I’ve overseen the creation of a successful municipal broadband system by treating Internet service like what it really is — a public utility, like water and electricity. We’re providing residents with broadband Internet service that is inexpensive and reliable and respects net neutrality and privacy principles.