The age of the Internet is in danger. On Tuesday the FCC was considering net neutrality regulations. Service providers want to control bandwidth based upon a pay to play. You might have a harder time finding or reading progressive voices. as we won’t be able to pay.
This Tuesday is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.
As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.
This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.
The FCC’s draft regulations they will consider tomrrow are bad for net neutrality, good for the corporate control of the Internet. Apparently, they say that corporations controlling access is “a cause for concern,” but that’s as tough as their language gets.
No, a corporate fast lane isn’t concerning — this kind of discrimination should be prohibited.
The FCC should protect everybody’s free speech rights and not discriminate against anybody.
Franken cites the competition between Netflix and Comcast as an example:
Here’s what’s most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama — who nominated him — have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.
But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we’ve been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.
No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate — and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules.
After all, just look at Comcast — this Internet monolith has reportedly imposed a new, recurring fee on Level 3 Communications, the company slated to be the primary online delivery provider for Netflix. That’s the same Netflix that represents Comcast’s biggest competition in video services.
Imagine if Comcast customers couldn’t watch Netflix, but were limited only to Comcast’s Video On Demand service. Imagine if a cable news network could get its website to load faster on your computer than your favorite local political blog. Imagine if big corporations with their own agenda could decide who wins or loses online. The Internet as we know it would cease to exist.
That’s why net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. And that’s why, this Tuesday, when the FCC meets to discuss this badly flawed proposal, I’ll be watching. If they approve it as is, I’ll be outraged. And you should be, too.