Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Broadband Battle: Round I

Hands Off
After destroying TV and radio by hording the public's airwaves for profit, mega-media corporations have now turned to the Internet. They're scheming to control what content you view, which services you use online, and whether others can see the content you create.

The only way to stop them is to raise hell right now.

Free Press is organizing its 220,000 activists in a letter writing campaign to pressure the CEOs of the most rapacious telephone and cable companies to keep their hands off our Internet.

Broadband is the battleground over which the future of all media is being fought. As streaming video, Internet phone services, podcasting and online games become more common parts of our daily media experience, the big Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast want to deliver only their version of these products at super-high speeds ... while sticking the rest of us in the slow lane.

Reversing the Revolution

That's what the telecommunications companies are proposing. And if they get their way, they will soon alter the flow of commerce and information — and your personal experience — on the Internet. As Christopher Stern wrote in yesterday's Washington Post, "the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another."

This predatory scheme is a dead end for independent voices and innovators-- bloggers, open-source programmers, and any new channels and services that might want to compete for your bandwidth -- who've previously made the Net a welcome vehicle for new and radical notions.

As a result of this openness, anyone could try out a new idea without having to cross a cable or telephone company’s permission barrier. Tech guru David Isenberg explained it this way: "A hobbyist collecting Pez dispensers could develop the idea to become Ebay. A couple of Stanford students could start Google and build a better search engine. Two guys in Europe could assemble a handful of programmers to invent Skype and threaten the trillion-dollar annual global tel-economy."

The end of network neutrality would shift the online revolution into reverse. If the nation's largest telephone and cable companies are allowed to limit the fastest services to those who can pay their toll, the rest of us — upstart Web services, consumers, bloggers and new media makers alike — could become locked out of the digital age.

Channeling the Public Outcry

The Free Press campaign asks concerned citizens to sign a letter to the CEO's urging them not to tamper with our Net freedoms. Broadband users are now sending thousands of letter to the likes of Ed Whitacre, Ivan Seidenberg, and Duane Ackerman demanding that they adhere to the principles of network neutrality.

Copies of these letters are also flowing to Congress urging our elected representatives to put enforceable network neutrality principles into our telecommunications laws and regulations.

(To send your own letter, follow this link).

Because the voice of the public in media policymaking is so often drowned out by inside-the-Beltway lobbying, the Consumer Federation of America, Free Press and Consumers Union examined public opinion on the issue of network neutrality.

According to the national poll, two-thirds of Internet users have serious concerns about practices by Internet network owners to block or impair their access to information and services, and the majority of those surveyed support congressional action to prevent this practice.

The survey found that more than 75 percent of Internet users are seriously concerned about not being able to freely choose an Internet service provider or being required to pay twice for certain Internet services. Of those polled, 54 percent want Congress to take action to ensure that the communications networks are operated according to the principles of net neutrality.

Past as Prologue to Big Media Abuse

From its beginnings, the Internet was built on a cooperative, democratic ideal. The infrastructure’s only job was to move data between users — regardless of where it came from or what it contained.

Network neutrality fostered a medium that did not exclude anyone, allowed for far-reaching innovations, and created the Internet as we know it.

Past experience shows that when large media companies are left to their own devices, the result is content and services that serve nothing but their bank accounts. An open and independent Internet is the antidote to these media gatekeepers.

If big media companies are allowed to limit the fastest services to those who can pay their toll, upstart Web services, consumers, bloggers and new media makers alike all would be cut off from the digital revolution.

Free Press activists are taking this action now to help the public defend our Net freedoms before we lose them altogether.

1 comment:

mynewsbot said...

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