Showing posts with label Net Neutrality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Net Neutrality. Show all posts

Monday, July 23

Preserving Freedom: Net Neutrality

According to Ghost In The Machine, written by Sharon Herbert, more than 29,000 comments were submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since it opened an inquiry into net neutrality. An additional 670 comments were filed by groups and individual Internet users on the deadline, July 16.

So is that it? Theresa Hall reminds BlogCatalog members that’s not it. She wrote U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) with her views that Internet service providers should not be allowed to discriminate by speeding up or slowing down access to Web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.

How did the senator respond?

I understand your concern that the Internet should not favor certain content or services over others. I believe that the Internet is not only an important tool, but a vital resource. It has allowed millions of Americans to communicate instantly with people around the world. It has put access to libraries of information at everyone's fingertips. The use of the Internet continues to grow, and the ways we use it continue to expand. Your views on network neutrality will be very helpful to me as Congress considers this issue.

As someone who frequently works in political arenas, I might point out that Sen. Mikulski's response is largely neutral, demonstrating little movement from her position last year. This is surprising to me, given Maryland state legislators acted on their own to put a mandate into place.

So what is this all really about? Some, like the New York Times, suggest it has to do with Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and others always being afraid of the competition, which is why iPhone is only available from one carrier (in Europe, you can change carriers any time regardless of the phone you want). In the years ahead, that competition is likely to include companies like Skype and Google, which have called on the FCC to open up more equipment and software options in the wireless industry. In fact, Google is looking for another leap forward with a wireless spectrum in which chunks of radio frequency currently used for analog TV would be freed up by a switch to digital.

Regardless of this behind-the-scenes wrangling, however, the real stake holders in net neutrality are people like you and me because we funded its creation with a combination of tax dollars and subscription fees. Without net neutrality, Internet carriers would very feasibly be able to control content on the Internet by favoring those sites willing to pony up cash for the carrier; or, as they have with mobile phones, lock up technologies so they can be exclusive providers; or create steeper tier systems similar to cable programming; or, quite possibly enforce net censorship.

I suggest, as always, education is the key to understanding. Catch the entertaining video version on YouTube, keep up to date by visiting sites like SaveTheInternet.com, and write U.S. senators and representatives in your state so you have a better understanding of their positions.

In fact, I am doing the latter today and I'll be happy to share their responses in the days ahead. Good night and good luck.

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