If the telecommunications industry has its way, it’ll be in charge of what Internet users can and can’t see. Web sites that pay a premium will get direct access to readers, while blogs and personal Web sites will be relegated to the “slow lane.” That discrimination by telecoms would be undemocratic, Net neutrality supporters say.
A bill co-sponsored by Minnesota DFL Reps. Keith Ellison and Tim Walz aims to keep the Internet a level playing field for all users and charge the Federal Communications Commission with ensuring that telecoms do not offer content based on how much a company pays them to display their content.
Introduced by Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Charles Pickering, R-Miss., the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 would bar “unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.”
The New York Times editorial board endorsed the bill this weekend. “Cable and telecommunications companies are fighting net neutrality with lobbyists and campaign contributions, but these special interests should not be allowed to set Internet policy,” wrote the Times. “It is the job of Congress to protect the Internet’s democratic form.”
Free Press is sponsoring the National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis June 6-8. The conference focuses on diversity and democracy in media.
Savetheinternet.com, a repository of information about telecoms and their attempts to limit Internet freedom, points out that Net neutrality brings together unlikely partners together for a common cause. The bill has the support of such disparate groups as Christian Coalition, Teamsters, PETA and Gun Owners of America.
The Daily Show helps explain the complicated issue of net neutrality: