Monday, May 08, 2006

Is The Last Bastion Of Free Speech About To Be Taken Away?

With the consolidation of media over the last decade, finding news in the regular places, television and newspapers, has become increasingly difficult, but the Internet has continued to thrive and grow allowing for alternative sources of news and opinion that have been swept off the front pages, airwaves and television news shows, to make it to the people. But that may be about to end.

Net neutrality, which Arianna Huffington points out is a terrible term from a marketing standpoint, is still one of the most important issues that we are facing right now. The FCC has made a decision (based on a Supreme Court ruling) that the Internet can be regulated in the same way cable television is, as opposed to the way telephone service is regulated. The difference between the two is that cable is a one-way transmission while telephone and the Internet are two-way transmissions. Everyone is a potential provider and receiver of information on the Internet, so there must be equality and neutrality in the way that information is shared. Cable on the other hand, provides information but they don't receive it, making it fine for them to control the vehicle through which information is passed and set preferences for what they carry. If this happens with the Internet, things will radically change.

Just imagine, you go to your computer because you just saw on your television that we have started dropping bombs on Iranian nuclear facilities and you want more information. You check out The Washington Post website, the page loads instantaneously, because you pay for high speed Internet access, and read the headlines and yes, they also report that we are conducting limited strikes, using conventional weapons to take out Iranian nuclear sites based on intelligence that they were about to strike us first (they had apparently built a nuclear bomb overnight). You seem to remember hearing a while back that there were plans to use mini-nukes in a strike against Iran, but The Post makes no mention of that, so you decide to go check out your favorite blogs to see what they're saying. You go first to your favorite blog, but the page won't load. You hit refresh, but the things just keeps spinning and eventually times out because, apparently, you now have syrup in your lines. You give up on your favorite blog and go to your second favorite instead. Same thing, the page won't load. Fine, you go to Democracy Now to see what Amy Goodman is saying because she always has good information. The page starts to load, but damn this is taking forever, on the top half of the screen that has loaded, you can see that yes, it does appear that we have used nuclear weapons in the strike, but geez, how much longer for the rest of the page? Getting frustrated you decide to check out the New York Times online, you zip over and it loads right away, but just like The Post, no mention of nuclear weapons. On to Yahoo News, same thing, loads right away, but zero on the nuclear payloads.

This is exactly what is on the way unless we do something about it. Call or write your Senators and Representatives in Congress and tell them to protect net neutrality! The following articles explain much better the details and why net neutrality is critical to preserving the Internet as we know it.

The Great American Firewall: Why the Net is Poinsed to Become a Global Weapon of Mass Deception

You Tube Video on Net Neutrality

Intel Backs Net Neutrality

Mike McCurry and Astroturfing Net Neutrality

Tech Giants' Internet Battles

Wikipedia on Net Neutrality


Anonymous BlueBerry Pick'n is ThisCanadian said...


10:04 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Blueberry pick'n--Thanks, I wasn't sure if I could explain the problem adequately (thus the link dump at the end). Ms. Huffington is right, it's a tricky one to try and put into a sound bite, we'll definitely have to work on that.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous SoCal619 said...

Wow, you put it in pretty terrifyingly easy terms! The prospect of government regulation of the internet (backed by telecommunication giants) really gives me fits! That lobbiest money could be so much better spent on perfecting broadband technology for the masses and giving the savings back to the consumer, rather than going down the road of the cliched "cutting off the nose to spite the face". But that's just me...a lone bug on the massive freeway called capitalism!

3:56 PM  
Blogger pkp646 said...

I must disagree with your appraisal of the situation. Net neutrality is not in danger. I've searched extensively on this issue and no one has violated or is planning on violating neutrality. I understand your concern and I too want the internet to remain free, but you don't need to worry quite yet (that is unless Congress foolishly gets invovled).

7:34 PM  
Blogger watcher said...

I think your example is a bit extreme. The intention as I understand it is not to reduce bandwidth for sites that can't/won't pay more, but rather to offer increased bandwidth (for a fee) to those sites that require it. The small site doesn't stand to lose here; if anything, the desire to appease all customers (and maximize profits) will force an improvement of the infrastructure and increase the baseline rates. True, there may be a few ISPs that go a step too far, but the market is a better deterrent to bad behavior than regulation. The first ISP to deny access to Google will find itself hemorrhaging customers.

8:03 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

SoCal619--It gives me the fits too.

pkp646--Involved like introducing HR5252 you mean?

Watcher--My example was meant to be extreme and believe me, I hope you're right. Media consolidation wasn't supposed to change the way news reached the people either, but it did, quite dramatically in fact. I'm sure you can understand why I fear this won't turn out any differently, regardless of the assurances that Congress has the peoples best interests at heart.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous frog said...

I'm with watcher...the market is a better deterrent to bad behavior than regulation." With members of Congress beholden to the special interests on both sides of this issue, I don't see how they could regulate without really mucking it up...

5:04 AM  
Anonymous MRT said...

I dont' think we are in danger of anything that sever happening. All the the ISPs are offering is a "faster lane" of traffic for their users. There is no proof that the rest of the internet will slow down as a a result. The ISPs would also not go so far as to restrict content, because then you would have a mob of angrier consumers, and the consumers are the ones who dictate where the market goes.

7:31 AM  

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