Wednesday, May 17, 2006

USA - Information Highway Robbers?

What makes the Internet revolutionary is that it is democratic, open to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.

That could soon change.

The US House of Reps was setting to vote on the “Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006,” a bill written by the telephone and cable TV corporations.

Among other provisions, the act formally guts what is known as the First Amendment of the Internet - network neutrality. The Senate will consider a similar bill in late May or early June.

Net neutrality ensures that the public can view the smallest blog just as easily as the largest corporate Web site and prevents companies like AT&T from rigging the playing field for only the highest-paying sites and services.

By not including network neutrality protections, the COPE Act upholds a 2005 ruling from the Federal Communications Commission that allows Internet service providers - telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon and cable companies like Comcast - to charge Web content creators a fee to make their sites readily accessible.

For example, take a filmmaker who wants to produce a documentary and distribute it to the public on his Web site - free. Under this new legislation, a service provider like AT&T would be able to charge the filmmaker for making his content available to their customers.

Or, if AT&T (or somebody within the government) did not approve of the documentary, it could refuse to let its customers access it all together—thereby allowing corporate censorship of a medium now characterized by the freewheeling exchange of ideas. In effect, the legislation allows the telecom industry to become the tollbooth operator on the information superhighway.

The Internet will begin to look like cable TV, where viewers can only choose from available options. Where is ITU? What are they doing?

The Internet has always been driven by innovation. Content succeeds or fails on their own merit. Without net neutrality, decisions now made collectively by millions of users will be made in corporate boardrooms.

To harness the power of those millions is the goal of Save the, whose key players in addition to Free Press include MoveOn, Punk Voter, along with bloggers like Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit and Matt Stoller at MyDD.

But as netizens are heeding a call to arms, the telecom industry has responded with a counterattack. Watch Mike “Industry Sock Puppet” McCurry, the former press spokesman for President Bill Clinton. McCurry is now a partner at Public Strategies, a PR firm whose motto is “managing campaigns for corporations around the clock, around the world.” In other words he is a 24-hour toy boy for the telecom industry.

McCurry is a masterful propagandist. Consider his 561-word Huffington Post screed against the slimy “net neuts.” Of the 26 sentences in this “essay,” 11 of them were rhetorical questions.

My rhetorical question is, 'Mike McCurry, when did you decide to become an industry whore?'

What to do?

Sign a petition that demands Congress to pass enforceable net neutrality provisions. Visit and make your voice heard.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Net Neutrality should be brought up at the local and state level also. In every town that Verizon or AT&T applies for a IPTV cable TV franchise Net Neutrality proponents should be there asking questions.

I'm trying to do that in my town ( and I encourage others to do the same.

8:02 PM, May 17, 2006  

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