Saturday, December 09, 2006

Huge Victory for Real People as Telco Bill Dies

The gavel has fallen on the 109th Congress marking the demise of entrenched corporate efforts to legislate away our Internet freedoms -- and a stunning victory for real people who want to retain control of the Internet.

The fate of Net Neutrality has now been passed to what appears to be a more Web-friendly Congress.

Our Coalition pledges to work with new Members to craft policies that ensure all Americans can access the Internet and enjoy the unlimited choices it has to offer.

The end of this Congress -- and death of Sen. Ted Stevens' bad bill -- gives us the chance to have a long overdue public conversation about what the future of the Internet should look like. This will not only include ensuring Net Neutrality, but making the Internet faster, more affordable and accessible.

'Huge Victory for Real People'

As the 109th comes to a close, Coalition members today praised our efforts in 2006 and discussed ways we can work towards a better Internet:

"This is a huge victory for real people and a clear signal to the next Congress that standing up for big bold ideas is a winning political proposition," said Eli Pariser, executive director of Civic Action.

Companies like AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth and Comcast spent more than $150 million to push Congress to gut Net Neutrality. But in the end, they couldn't overcome widespread public opposition.

"The people’s attention to the issue of Net Neutrality is more powerful than any legislation — and this year proves that," said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University Law School and author of Who Controls the Internet.

'It's About Fairness'

Network Neutrality has been part of the Internet since its inception, ensuring that the service providers who control the "pipes" don’t interfere with content based on its ownership or source. "Net neutrality is just about fairness and a level playing field," said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist. "It's that simple."

"Industry will be back with their money and phony grassroots groups," said Jeannine Kenney, senior policy analyst at Consumers Union. "But next time around, with a public now well-informed of what's at stake, we hope Congress will take up broadband policy that advances consumer -- not just industry -- needs."

The more than 850 groups in the Coalition also include the National Religious Broadcasters, the Service Employees International Union, the American Library Association, Educause, Gun Owners of America, Future of Music Coalition, Parents Television Council, the ACLU, and every major consumer group in the country. These are supported by a community of more than a million small businesspeople, bloggers, MySpacers, YouTubers, activists and citizens.

"As an activist and new media advocate, I am encouraged by our prospects in Congress for protecting the egalitarian spirit of the Internet and all people's unfettered access to it," said Christopher Rabb, founder of Afro-Netizen. "This fight has even greater impact on underserved communities, particularly among African-Americans, who rarely own or control the content we consume in mainstream media."

'The Fight for Net Neutrality Has only Begun'

While the defeat of HR 5252 is a major step forward, the future of the Internet remains in jeopardy until Congress passes meaningful, enforceable protections for Net Neutrality. Such legislation will be a top priority for members of the Coalition when the legislators return in January.

"Despite a Congress deeply in the pocket of telecom lobbyists, the public banded together to stop attacks on our free and open Internet," declared Michael Kieschnick, president of the Working Assets. "In 2007, we will continue the fight to preserve this precious public good by making Network Neutrality the law of the land."

"The potent combination of grassroots support and the facts stopped a bad bill," said Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America. "But the fight for Net Neutrality has only begun."


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Okay, the only problem is now I have Verizon DSL that is about one thirtieth the speed that is available for the same price in Korea, Japan, Israel, etc. and no chance of a much faster DSL connection now that the incentive is gone. Nor will I be able to stream TV, or the zillions of things a faster connection would enable me to do...I would LOVE to pay a bit more for a faster connection! Solutions?

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