Today I'm asking that you take action to contact Senator Dole and Senator Burr to encourage them to support an unencumbered internet, also known as "net neutrality". Talking Points Memo is keeping a list of the Senators and where they stand. At last check Dole had not been contacted and Burr had not decided.
Email or call. Share your concerns. Ask for their commitment to help keep the full internet accessible to all Americans, not just the wealthy.
Many of us are a bit confused as to what net neutrality really means and whether it will impact our lives. I'm still not clear on all the different details, but everything I've read tells me that it will impact our lives and could do so dramatically for those of us who use the internet to research and communicate.
More info below the fold...
According to Wikipedia:
Network neutrality relates to the various kinds of distortions that analog and digital networks of any kind impose on the traffic they carry, either due to design, to management practices, or to meet business objectives. Network neutrality is a focal point for regulatory policies, especially related to the Internet. It is often used in an idiosyncratic manner by political groups to signify any of a wide-ranging collection of public policy goals. The precise interpretation of the term is the subject of contentious debate, perhaps because it is a recent coinage without a well-established history as well as the subject of political debate.
I'm going to provide links to all of the different blogs that discuss this issue. As much as I would love to clear things up for everyone - and I do understand the basics - I do not do a very good job of explaining all of the different issues that arise with the communications companies having sole control of the internet.
My biggest concern is that the telcom and cable companies will go beyond charging for different access speeds and will have tiered services much like cable companies have for television subscription. In other words, basic access will block out certain "channels" or servers and the $50/month I'm paying won't allow me the same access that I currently have.
If Google, Yahoo, CNN, Fox, etc have to pay more to be top tier for different providers at some point that is going to impact us. At some point they will make access to their data subscription only or will put more information behind firewalls like the New York Times does and limit the information that is available for free.
I do not begrudge these companies their profits. I do get a bit pissy when Time Warner Cable is reaching into my pocket each month mulitiple times. In other words, I pay them my monthly access fee and then I pay them through Google or Yahoo or CNN for any fees these companies impose on services I currently receive for free. You see these companies have to turn around and give part of my money to Time Warner Cable for their top tier status. Wait! Pissy doesn't begin to describe how that makes me feel.
Here's a "what if" for you. A high school teacher gives an assignment that involves researching several specific web sites for data. If the internet service providers have limited access to any of these sites or reserved access to them for only their highest paying customers, what happens when students in a public school try to complete their research? Will only the wealthiest students have access to this information on their home computers. Will other students be forced to find other ways to access this data? Will our high schools be forced to stop encouraging internet research and technical advancement because it is simply out of reach for some students? This is more than likely a big stretch, but it is something to think about.
Be prepared to hear somebody toss out those tired capitalistic rants about competition and the free market. "Free market" forces do not work where there is limited to no competition, so the typical free market responses to our concerns should receive a loud burst of derisive laughter.
Here are some good sites for further reading...
MyDD Diaries...Scroll down
Contact Your Senators Today!
You know what to do!