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Save the Internet

July 3rd, 2006 · Written by · No Comments

Hands off the Internet — a telecom advocacy group posing as a grassroots organization — is arguing against net neutrality. The group claims the telecom industry simply wants the Internet to be governed by economics, not government regulation. Russell sees this stance as a front for corporate control of the Internet.

“What these corporations are really saying is ‘hands off our Internet.”

“What these corporations are really saying is ‘hands off our Internet.’ They want to be the only ones regulating things,” says Russell. “There are no ‘free markets.’ All markets are regulated, and net neutrality is not burdensome. Phone companies made plenty of money under common carrier laws, and they’ll make money under net neutrality.”

There are already numerous examples of ISPs degrading content in absence of any firm neutrality guidelines. North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using rival web-based phone services such as Vonage. AOL blocked all emails that mentioned the website of a campaign opposed to its pay-to-send email plan.

DOWN, BUT NOT OUT

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over. The good news is the real grassroots coalition, Save the Internet, is growing stronger everyday. Its members span the political spectrum, and are unrelenting in their pursuit to preserve a free and open Internet. Their website, launched in April, already boasts over a million petition signers and hundreds of groups who are in favor of strict neutrality guidelines.

“All these groups have found such success over the Internet,” comments communications director Craig Aaron. “This type of sharing never existed before, and they understand the ability to quickly inform is a nonpartisan need.”

They have some big guns on their side. Musician Moby has jumped onboard to serve as a spokesperson for neutrality, along with web creators Vint Cerf and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. At a conference in May, Berners-Lee warned the net would enter a “dark period” if ISPs are allowed to prioritize traffic.

Web-based companies such as eBay and Google are joining the fray as well. Meg Whitman, chief eBay executive, emailed over a million members of the online auction service asking for their support of net neutrality, and Eric Schmidt of Google asked his staff to back the concept.

All of this has helped push the debate into the limelight.

“The telecom executives would prefer no one knew about this issue,” says director Aaron. “Media policy is always being set behind closed doors, with public input ignored. We need to change that, and have a real public discussion.”

With media consolidation running rampant and the news as business brand of journalism growing ever more insidious, there’s never been a more important time to preserve the Internet as a democratic information-sharing medium where everyone has equal access — regardless of monetary frontiers.

To join the fight for Internet democracy visit savetheinternet.com

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