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Net Neutrality–Free Speech on the Internet

July 7th, 2010 · No Comments · Capitalism, Corporations and Industry, Courts and the Law, Economics, Media, Politics, Science & Technology

Someone asked recently, “What can I do?” when it comes to issues of political and economic power being used as a wedge or leverage against the average American.

Sometimes there is very little anyone can do. For instance, the Supreme Court recently made several rulings setting back established law 60 or 70 years. It has said that corporations not only can participate in elections by supporting a candidate, but they may give money to a candidate directly.

So, if General Motors wants its own Senator in Michigan–or two of them–and a Governor, they can give campaign funds directly to them. There can be the “Senators from General Motors” where there had been Senators from Michigan.

The Supreme Court also ruled that people have the right to buy guns no matter what the state law says. So the hundreds of stat gun laws aiding police and protecting innocent citizens were overturned in one simple vote of the 9 members of the Court.

There is, however, one issue on which people can clearly make a definite difference.

That issue is net neutrality. So what is it and how can the average person influence it?

Net Neutrality is the principle that says Internet providers, like Comcast and AT&T, may not discriminate between various types of customers because of content or volume or application on the Internet. It is about freedom of speech in the 21st Century.

The idea of net neutrality is that the Internet was developed by scientists and universities to pass information from one place to another quickly and freely. Now, the “freely” part is important because it was always meant not only as “fluidly” but “free” as in no charge.

Of course, there are costs. And there are people who have made investments in businesses in the communications field who do charge for the providing the service of bringing the Internet into your location. But it is not all they do. They also determine how the transmission of your messages to others and their messages to you are transmitted.

There is Comcast, the largest Internet provider and the largest cable company. And AT&T, the largest phone company and second largest cell phone company. AT&T is also one of the largest cable and Internet companies. But they are not the only huge corporations who want to control the Internet. There are others.

All the major Internet providers are eager to control the flow of data so that they can charge more for some premium access. Obviously, many large corporations have very large amounts of information they would like to move expeditiously. These large communications companies are more than happy to oblige…at the expense of your access.

It will allow Internet providers to block or slow specific sites and charge others to deliver their content faster. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the FCC and said that the FCC does not have the authority to make broadband providers treat all customers equally. Now, the question is…what will the Supreme Court do when, inevitably the issue reaches the Supreme Court?

So, here is where we can all do some good. Certainly the Supreme Court may not see things for the People. We know that they have ruled for the corporations almost every time now that they have 5 solid Neocon votes.

But, this time, there are a lot of people who can make their anger known…namely…every single individual, small business, organization, blogger, facebook member and student who wants to have access to the Internet without waiting for General Electric to download its entire annual marketing database.

If you write to anyone who contacts you on the Internet, cousins, co-workers, friends, enemies, Viagra sales, porn producers, politicians, local government, small businesses…anyone is a prospect for this. Have them go to one organization…www.freepress.net.

There, right on the front page, you will find instructions on how to chime in with your objection to the Internet’s being stolen from you just as every other piece of public property is being stolen by the Neocons and their billionaire friends.

Here’s what you can do, number one.

1. Send a simple email to this address: fccinfo@fcc.gov.

Whatever your message, it should be short and uncomplicated. The baic idea is this:

I need the unimpeded freedom to use the Internet. Any restrictions are unfair and uncivil. I oppose and reject any and all legislation to restrict my free use of the Internet.

Here is one idea for expressing this that could be copied or amended:

“I consider the Internet a free and open community for enterprise and for the communication of ideas. I consider as essential to our free society as I would consider a river or an Interstate highway to transportation. If you restrict my ability to use the Internet, I will be very upset and take whatever action I can against anyone who causes it in order to restore my unfettered freedom to interact with others on this wonderful medium. This is the most serious of issues. Please take my comments very seriously.”

2. Next, send an email to this person and copy the second person on the email

Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov Michael.Copps@fcc.gov

One is the chairman of the FCC and the other is a long-serving board member who is totally committed to net neutrality. He will see to it that any emails are forwarded to the place where they will do the most good.

On this Email, I would say something like:

“Please let those who will make the decision on Net Neutrality know that this is one of the most serious issues for the average user of the Internet. It is very important to me and to everyone I know. Please help us defeat the forces opposing net neutrality. Thank you.”

3. Make sure that you send an email to as many people as you can. Ask them to continue this and explain how important it is to American society that we have available free and open discourse on the Internet not impeded by restrictions of gatekeepers who will likely have their own commercial purposes ahead of the public’s right to unimpeded communication.

Rather than copying what has already been written about this, we recommend that you visit http://corruptionroad.freepress.net/

You’ll learn about the tens of millions of dollars that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time-Warner are each spending in lobbying to wrest control of the Internet away from the average citizen. Time-Warner, for example, tried to overcharge its Internet customers but was met with overwhelming opposition. They have now set up a “customer education” program. In other words, they will send out propaganda to try to fool their own customers into allowing Time-Warner to charge them more for less service.

You’ll see that AT&T spend $15 million in 2009 and increased that to $6 million in the first quarter of 2010 alone to fight against the People’s right to an open Internet.

If you use the Internet regularly and rely on its being there for you, this is one of the biggest legislative and political battles thus far in the 21st Century. It will determine who controls what will be the principal means of communication.

Please get involved.

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