The struggle for Net Freedom

A new fight is brewing over the future of communications in the United States. It pits the nation’s largest cable and telephone companies against those who believe the Internet should support the free and independent flow of ideas.

Broadband is the battleground. As more Americans upgrade to high-speed Internet connections, the companies that control the “pipes” are plotting out new ways to profit from the demand. The telco and cable giants want to fence off the Internet: one area for the haves — who will pay a premium to enjoy life in the fast lane — and the other for the have-nots.

The innovation and creativity of the Internet are the result of its foundation as an open roadway. At serious risk is the idea of “network neutrality” — a guiding principle of the Internet that ensures all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice. Corporate greed threatens to bring the Internet’s promise of advanced communications for all to a screeching halt.

The telcos want to end network neutrality forever. Then charge whatever larcenous rates they can get away with for top tier service. Everyone else will get reduced service, both in terms of bandwidth and also access. This, among other things, would kill podcasting and videocasting for the smaller players. Blogs may or may not be able to get through. Maybe they’ll refuse access to blogs whose politics they don’t like.

These big companies want the Internet as their private playpen. You want in, you pay – a lot. This is not the free market, this is corporate greed aided and abetted by the government, specifically Michael Powell, who killed network neutrality while head of the FCC. In a real free market, everyone gets to play, everyone is equal. That’s what network neutrality means. But now it’s gone.

Unless you want the Internet fenced in with toll booths everywhere, now is the time to mobilize. has the details.

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