Left and Right fight for Net Freedom

27 April 2006

www.savetheinternet.com is a timely US-based coalition seeking to save the neutrality of the Internet as changes in the law pass through Congress. Gun Owners of America, MoveOn.org, and many others have joined forces to stand against what could ultimately channel and subvert the expansive, progressive tool the net has grown to be.

The Bill causing all the concern is the Telecom Bill. The coalition gathered 250,000 signatures in only a week to support an amendment put forward by Congressman Edward Markey.

Those campaigning to change the bill suffered a setback today when the amendment was voted down. A disappointed Ed Markey said:

"The telecom bill, which prohibits the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from making new net neutrality rules, will "put at grave risk the Internet as an engine of innovation, job creation and economic growth," 

"This will stifle openness, endanger our global competitiveness, and warp the Web into a tiered Internet of bandwidth haves and have-nots.""


Google and other large US companies have recently come under fire for operating in China, charged with collaborating with the government's repressive Internet filtering and censorship. Any moves that allow providers to insert tiers into the Internet, based on ability to pay, would ultimately reduce the free flow of information, creating an advantage for those who can afford the most, and knocking off at the other end of the scale those business start-ups and citizen journalists, who need equality of access on the web to get a foothold in todays information society. While the struggle to keep the Internet open is far from over in China, it is so even in the place of its creation. American scientists  devised a system that would naturally defy any blockages or attempts to bring it down. Thus it is that only with network collusion can it be controlled, effectively by eating itself. Cannibalising content, saving some sections for the better off. This is potentially open to abuse for political, as well as financial gain. How can a message reach a whole continent, or even the world over the web when a competing message is offered preferential bandwidth? It will always come in second - and that can only be bad for democracy in this new century.

There may be a chance for new provisions as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation deliberate. I for one will be waiting, and hoping.

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