There’s a terrific article on the network neutrality debate by Farhad Manjoo in Salon. If you’re wondering what the fuss is about I urge you to take the time to read it.
Dan Gillmor got eloquently passionate about the issue when he gave the New Media lecture at Columbia University:
I’ve talked a fair amount about openness here. This is not only an issue for journalists in their own work. It’s one of the most important policy issues facing us all. If you think media consolidation is an issue today, it’s nothing compared with what we’re facing tomorrow.
Earlier, I mentioned a clear and present danger to the open Internet that has nurtured a more diverse media ecosystem. The threat, in America, is the dominance of the cable and phone companies in what we laughingly call broadband data connections. I say “laughingly” because the U.S. is falling way, way behind the rest of the developed world in providing broadband access, and one reason is the dominance of companies that grew up in an environment where they dominated their worlds, and really preferred it that way.
The cable and phone companies want to control not just the pipes through which our data moves. They also want to decide what will get delivered, in what order, and at what speed. They haven’t pulled this off yet, but they’re getting closer every day.
Yesterday, a committee in the House of Representatives voted down an amendment to a new bill that would have required what many of us call “network neutrality.” This is the idea that the people getting data — you and me — should make the decisions on what we get and in what order, and if necessary pay more for higher speeds. It should not be a decision made by Verizon or Comcast or Time Warner or the fake new ATT.
If they succeed in capturing the kind of control they want — and they’re closer than I would have believed possible — we’ll all be harmed.
I beg you to write and call your member of Congress and U.S. senators, and your state representatives — the duopoly is well-wired, in the wrong way, in our state capitals, too. Tell them you want an open Internet, not a walled garden or fortress where giant companies get to pick what innovations will succeed or fail.
Last week Dan posted about AT&T’s apparent participation in helping the NSA perform what may be illegal spying against American citizens, and noted:
There’s plenty of shame to go around, and you expect this from the current government. But one of the most disturbing parts of this is the phone company’s seeming eagerness to give up its customers’ most private information without appearing to care that it’s violating basic rules of business and decency.
And these companies are run by the people who want to control the Internet by ending any semblance of network neutrality. Feeling safer?
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