Monday, April 24, 2006

SavetheInternet Wants Stop Telco Pitbulls Before They Bite

Launched today, is a grassroots, non-partisan coalition which aims to lobby Congress to support Net Neutrality and stop Big Telcos from constructing a two-tiered Internet that would inhibit the free flow of information that so much of us have come to depend on.

Basically, speedy net services will be parsed out to those who can afford it--and if you have the right service. For instance, if you have Comcast, who may have its own music download service, and you want to downlowad from iTunes (or another cheaper service), Comcast will be able to slow down your access to other services so that the "better choice" for music downloads will be their service.

It could also decide which political candidate is the "better choice."

This is not really new--just a re-packaging of what they used to do in the days of dialup. Case in point: in the days of crappy dialup, AOL was the only dependable system--but not only did they charge an extorition-like hourly rate over a certain number of contracted hours, they also restricted access to information from competitor's services and sites they deemed "inappropriate."

When free, more dependable and unrestricted dialup, became available, people opted out of AOL. Then highspeed broadband came along and even though it's a tad more expensive than dial-up, the access and speed is worth the charge.

However, what we are paying for broadband (or dsl) service apparently is not enough. BigTelco--ATT, Verizon, etc--have re-concocted a pay scheme that makes AOL's hourly charge look downright cheap. But it's not just the cost--it's the inhibited access to information that is what will hurt us the most.

Yeah, some folks might think this will stop porn before it pops up on the kiddie's computers. It's not porn, though, that it will stop--it's the free flow of commerce across many different industries (like the example above). It's the free-flow of political information (and, yes, political echo-chambering and infighting and other nonsense, but that's life in a democracy. if you're not used to it by now, too bad.) There will be no amount of wonky Search Engine Optimization techniques that will help a small business if it can't pay upfront to Big Telco for access. Big Telco will decide what websites will be best for you, letting big business's big bidders outdo educational institutions and small businesses at every step.

This is bad, folks. Really, really bad.

Certain memebers of Congress have already started "pushing a law that will ban Net Neutrality." If we don't start to speak up now, we stand to lose a lot of the freedoms we have the right to exercise. If Big Telco becomes our gatekeeper, we lose what so much of us, thru our blogs, small businesses, civic organizations and general chitchat, have created out here. Without our use of the internet, there would be no internet. But like drug dealers who dole out samples of heroin and crack in order to get people hooked, the telcos know that many of us who are "heavy users" (as we were referred to in a recent Pew Char. Trust report) rely on the internet for one reason or another. But the difference between drugs and the internet is that while drugs destroy lives and communities, the Internet and those of us who have used it freely have created communities, businesses, and jobs.

The Internet is no longer a luxury item and the playground of a few high-powered tech geeks. It is part of our way of life. We consumers are the ones who have been using on-line newspapers, movie-ticket buying services, photo sharing sites, blog platforms, Ebay, Google, iTunes, Everquest,, and the local chambers of commerce and public library websites. We are now being asked to pony up for something that we have put our own 'sweat equity' into since the late '90's--for without Us and our useage patterns, the telcos would see no benefit to them in creating a two-tiered system. We keep this world spinning.

And, furthermore, what are We? China?? That's the only *other* place on the planet where they've proposed, and got, a two-tiered Internet...

Think about it.

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1 comment:

Patricia said...

Thank you for the link. I'll most definitely check out that site. Net neutrality IS the internet. Take that away and it's really nothing special.