Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Net Neutrality Matters: Protect Internet Freedom - Or Lose It

Imagine an Internet where the big corporations and big media have finally taken control and throttled the explosion of free, uncensored content.

Imagine an Internet where radical voices and nonconformists have at last been muzzled and shut down.

Imagine an Internet where the big corporations that want to reach inside your pocket and your cranium have achieved their dream of making it impossible for individual Net users to share free, unfettered content, information and files.

Imagine a world where everything that once made the Internet special and valuable and relevant and wild and exciting has been snuffed out, leaving only a poignant memory of unshackled freedom and the regret of lost potential.

You may not have to imagine much longer, because if the big corporations have their way, they could, by 2012, have the same chokehold on Internet information flow as they already exercise on television, radio, and newspapers.

Many people don't yet know how badly the powerful cable and phone companies want to censor the information we can get over the Net...and insidiously slow down or block web content that they don't agree with.

Many people don't know that Big Media has a plan in the works to make the Internet, which until now has enjoyed the freedom of having its users determine which content is popular, less interactive and more like corporate-controlled television?

What happens to free speech if rich and powerful corporations have the ability to shut off or slow down viewpoints they find objectionable?

(Above) Take a look at your future -- or do something to change it

According to Belgium-based Internet activists iPower, Internet providers around the globe are currently in talks with access and content providers to transform the Internet into a television-like medium: no more freedom, you pay for a small commercial package of sites you can visit and you'll have to pay for separate subscriptions for every site that's not in the package.

If this plan is implemented, almost all smaller websites and alternative information sources will disappear over time -- because most people will never find out about them! -- and multinational corporations who are used to using big budgets to brute force their content into every media outlet will finally realize their dream of being able to approach the World Wide Web in the same way.

We need to all do our part in ensuring the Internet remains a level playing field for consumers and innovators.

Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online. Network Neutrality is the principle that Internet users, not service providers, should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet.

Big phone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner have worked very hard to oppose Net Neutrality and pave the way for "network management" practices that allow blocking of certain content in favor of Web sites and services the companies prefer.

Do you want to pick for yourself the Internet content and information that most interests you and that is most useful to you? Or do you want the same corporate gatekeepers who control all the OTHER sources of information to spoon-feed you only the information they want you to have? The choice is yours, people.

The Markey-Pickering bill currently before Congress requires the FCC to actively protect the free-flowing Internet from gatekeepers, enforcing protections that "guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet."

Barack Obama on Net Neutrality "The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history -- and we have to keep it that way."

Sen. Ted Kennedy on Net Neutrality "It's an issue that's not just about the Internet, but about free and open communication. Net Neutrality protects your freedom of speech. Net Neutrality is about protecting the innovative, democratic spirit that has always characterized the Internet. It is our duty to protect it."

iPower on Net Neutrality

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