Category Archives: net neutrality

It’s So Hurtful

I’m taking a lunch break at Stop and Shop, using their network and checking out my stats and my friend’s blogs.

Or trying to. Nomi’s blog, ‘I Dreamed I Saw Grace P. Today’ is forbidden on this network. Likewise ‘Echidne of the Snakes’.

Has Nomi spent too much time hanging out with ‘Jesus’ General’? The General does get into some personal matters every other sentence or so. And his gladiator obsession is kind of much.

Kmareka is not forbidden. Possibly because our editorial policy bans any language that Kiersten’s kids can’t see.

But maybe that’s not it. Maybe compared to Nomi we are harmless and uncontroversial. Maybe we’re not important enough to be banned in the Stop and Shop. It’s so hurtful.

Help Chafee Take a Position on Net Neutrality

The issue of net neutrality has been an issue that Lincoln Chafee, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Steve Laffey have all avoided taking a position on. The House of Representatives has already voted to give more power to corporations on the issue of internet communication. Now there is an effort from corporate lobbyists to force a vote on this issue in the Senate. Senators like Lincoln Chafee need to know that this is not a small, insignificant issue. Further, if Chafee takes a position on this issue, it may help encourage the other candidates to research this issue thoroughly and let the public know where they stand. From Moveon.org:

Can you help deliver the petitions next Wednesday—asking Senator Chafee to protect Net Neutrality? Please RSVP below.

What: Internet freedom petition delivery to the senator’s office
Where: Senator Chafee’s Providence Office, 170 Westminster Street, Providence, RI
When: Wednesday, 30 Aug 2006, 12:00 PM

Link to RSVP

Sign the petition here

For more on net neutrality, visit Save The Internet.

Four Debates Between Chafee and Laffey

Projo reports:

PROVIDENCE — Republican Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee The debates will begin on Thursday, Aug. 10, on the Arlene Violet Show, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on WHJJ (920-AM). On Thursday, Aug. 17, Chafee and Laffey will face off on the Dan Yorke Show on WPRO (630-AM) from 5 to 6 p.m.

Two television debates will be held. The first, sponsored jointly by The Providence Journal and Channel 12 (WPRI), will occur on Channel 12 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23. The second, and final debate before the Sept. 12 primary election, will be held on Channel 10 (WJAR) on Thursday, Aug. 24.

“This schedule will give the people of Rhode Island a good opportunity to hear from us directly about the issues that they care about,” said Chafee in a news release yesterday. “I hope Mr. Laffey will join me in working to keep these appearances focused on those issues.”

Laffey’s campaign has been needling Chafee for weeks about debates, but Chafee’s camp said the senator is fulfilling the pledge that he made throughout the campaign — that he would debate once the Senate session went into summer recess.

“The senator has been very busy at the job he was elected to do in Washington representing the people of Rhode Island,” said Ian Lang, Chafee’s campaign manager, said, “We have always intended to debate.”

This will be interesting. I have come up with a few questions. First, I would ask them about net neutrality and whether they support efforts to keep the internet’s playing field level in order to continue fostering economic growth and free speech online. Both Chafee and Reed have refused to take a position on this issue, and candidates Laffey and Whitehouse also made no reply to my inquiry asking them to publicize their position on the issue.

Second, I would love to hear a question posed about the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on government and medicine in the US. “President Bush has come under criticism for allowing the pharmaceutical industry to dictate the terms of the new prescription drug benefit for seniors. Others have charged the the FDA has become increasingly corrupted by its panel members having monetary ties to the pharmaceutical industry. As a Senator, what would you do to ensure that patient care, and not profit, were prioritized in American health care?” This is an issue on which Laffey has taken a strong stand, and it would be interesting to hear his response contrasted with Chafee’s.

I also hope there will be ample discussion of the Iraq war and the recent plan to increase our troops there.

I’ll be forwarding my questions on to the radio and TV stations. If you have any questions you want asked, feel free to post them here. Then send them on to:

Arlene Violet

Dan Yorke

Channel 10

Channel 12

We’ll see whose questions get into the debates.

Kerry Blogs on Net Neutrality

From Sen. John Kerry, guest-blogging for Savetheinternet.com:

On Wednesday in the Senate Commerce Committee I warned that those of us who believe in net neutrality will block legislation that doesn’t get the job done.

It looks like that’s the fight we’re going to have.

The Commerce Committee voted on net neutrality and it failed on an 11-11 tie. This vote was a gift to cable and telephone companies, and a slap in the face of every Internet user and consumer.

It will not stand.

I voted against this lousy bill for two reasons: because net neutrality and internet build-out are crucial to building a more modern and fair Information Society, and both were pushed aside by the Republicans.

Everyone says they don’t want the new world we’re living in to be marked by the digital divide — the term is so clichéd it’s turned to mush — but yesterday was a test of who is willing to ask corporate America to do anything to fix it, and the Commerce Committee failed miserably. Why are United States Senators afraid to say that companies should be expected to foster growth by building out their broadband networks to increase access?

Free and open access to the internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they’re born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going let a handful of companies hold internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service. Not to mention inadequate internet service — in the age of the information.

This bill was passed in committee over our objections. Now we need to fight to either fix it or kill it in the full Senate. Senator Wyden has already drawn a line in the sand — putting a “hold� on the bill, which prevents it from going forward for now. But there will be a day of reckoning on this legislation soon, make no mistake about it, and we need you to get engaged — pressure your Senators, follow the issue, demand net neutrality and build-out.

You can have an impact on whether the internet will be an engine for democracy, innovation, and competitive commerce by calling Lincoln Chafee at 453-5294 and urging him support net neutrality.

Net Neutrality Not Supported in the House

Good news for the telecom/cable internet special interests, bad news for regular people like you and me: last night as Tom DeLay gave his swan song in the Senate, the House passed the COPE Act without any net neutrality provisions, and voted down the Markey Amendment (net neutrality provisions) by a count of 269 to 152.

WASHINGTON — June 8, 2005 — Following the passage of the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act , Free Press cofounder Robert W. McChesney issued the following statement on behalf of the http://www.savetheinternet.com coalition:

“Passage of major telecom legislation without enforceable Net Neutrality is a low point in the history of US policymaking. The telephone-cable Internet duopoly providers deluged Congress with an army of lobbyists, countless millions spent on misleading PR spin and outright lies, and a single-minded determination to put their bottom line ahead of the democratic principles of an open, neutral Internet.

“If we lose Net Neutrality, we lose the most promising method for regular people to access and provide diverse and independent news, information and entertainment. We will see the Internet become like cable TV: a handful of massive companies will decide what you can see and how much it will cost. Gone will be the entrepreneurship and innovation that has made the Internet the most important cultural and economic engine of our times.

“The Senate cannot ignore the massive right-left coalition of Americans that have unified behind Net Neutrality: over 750,000 individuals, nearly every consumer group, the Internet’s founders, and a rapidly growing coalition of nearly every industry that relies on the Internet.

“In the past two months, net neutrality has gone from little-known tech jargon to the most contentious issue in the COPE Act. The hundreds of thousands of Americans who signed the SaveTheInternet.com petition, added the coalition to their MySpace accounts, voted pro-net neutrality videos to the front page of YouTube.com and called their Members of Congress represent the tweak of the tiger’s tail. The House vote is a pyrrhic victory for the telecom lobby. Momentum to defend net neutrality will only grow as Americans realize that the threat to internet freedom is real. Senators can expect to hear their constituents loud and clear on their responsibility to protect net neutrality and we will be watching closely to make sure they listen.”

Both Kennedy and Langevin supported the COPE act without net neutrality provisions. However, both Langevin and Kennedy supported the separate Markey Amendment (net neutrality provisions).

This is beyond sad. More needs to be done to bring our Democratic legislators up to speed on how this legislation favors the Goliaths and will squash the Davids of the internet.

Victory for Net Neutrality Movement

Good News!

The broad, nonpartisan movement for Internet freedom notched a major victory today, when a bipartisan majority of the House Judiciary Committee passed the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006″ — a bill that offers meaningful protections for Network Neutrality, “the First Amendment of the Internet.�

20 members of the Commitee (6 Republicans and 14 Democrats) voted for the bipartisan Bill, and only 13 against.

[...]

“Internet freedom is under attack, but Americans of every political stripe are fighting back together and today we achieved an amazing victory,” said Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. “Today’s vote was a solid loss for AT&T’s multi-million dollar lobbyists and a solid victory for the rest of us — including the thousands of Americans who have called Congress every day in support of protecting Net Neutrality.”

Since it launched in late April, more than 700 groups spanning the political spectrum have joined the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, including MoveOn.org, the Christian Coalition, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Gun Owners of America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American Library Association, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist.

“We urge Congress to move aggressively to save the Internet — and allow ideas rather than money to control what Americans can access on the World Wide Web,” said Roberta Combs, President of the Christian Coalition of America. “We urge all Americans to contact their Congressmen and Senators and tell them to save the Internet and to support Net Neutrality.”

The bipartisan “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006″ (H.R. 5417) next moves to the full House after Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess. The SavetheInternet.com Coalition is urging people to continue writing and calling their members of Congress until Network Neutrality becomes law.

This victory is a great indication of how much people value the internet and want to keep it accessible for consumers, writers, activists, small businesses, churches, political groups, community organizations, and, yes, bloggers. Hooray for everyone who has helped the net neutrality movement! We need to keep the pressure on until net neutrality becomes law.

Bandwidth 4 Us, Not 4 You

Along with Handsofftheinternet.com, there is another astroturf front group for the large Telcos that has just started up: TV4US. According to Savetheinternet.com, this organization is doing a telemarketing campaign in which they are calling consumers and trying to convince us that companies like Google and Microsoft are using up all the bandwidth and driving up the costs of television and internet services.

Here is Savetheinternet’s take on this organization:

What’s really costing consumers isn’t Net Neutrality but the phone companies’ multi-million-dollar campaign to kill it. Companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth have spent tens of millions of dollars on canned phone calls, advertisements, DC lobbyists and phony front groups to squash our genuine grassroots effort.

Where do you think they get that money? That’s right. A portion of your phone bill goes towards creating campaigns that are designed to deceive consumers into acting against their best interests.

They also cite a joint report from the the Consumers Union (nonprofit publishers of Consumer Reports), which present these 12 facts about how the internet works:

FACT 1: Network Neutrality protections have existed for the entire history of the Internet. Opponents of Internet freedom pretend that Network Neutrality protections would mean new, onerous government regulations. But advocates of Network Neutrality are not promoting new regulations. We are preserving tried and tested consumer protections and network operating principles that have made the Internet the greatest engine of economic growth and democratic communication in modern memory.

FACT 2: Network discrimination through a “tiered Internet� will severely curtail consumer choice. Network owners say discrimination will benefit consumers with higher-quality services. But winners and losers in the content marketplace should be chosen based on the merits of a Web site or service, not the whims of the network owners. Without Network Neutrality, telephone and cable companies will have a strong financial incentive to distort the free market in favor of their own content and services.

FACT 3: Network discrimination will undermine innovation, investment and competition. The genius of the Internet is that it always has allowed “innovation without permission.� It has been a free marketplace of ideas where innovators and entrepreneurs rise and fall on their own merits. But on a “tiered Internet� without Network Neutrality, the upstarts and little guys will be at the mercy of the network owners to decide who can succeed or fail.

FACT 4: Network discrimination will fundamentally alter the consumer’s online experience by creating fast and slow lanes for Internet content. Up to this point, the consumer has been the ultimate decision-maker online; the network owners simply transmitted data over the wires, regardless of its content. The network owners claim they won’t harm or degrade anybody else’s content in a world without Network Neutrality. But network prioritization is a zero-sum game. The fact is that every time one Web site is sped up, another must be slowed down.

FACT 5: No one gets a “free ride� on the Internet. The network operators allege that if Network Neutrality is preserved, they won’t be able to build new, high-speed networks. This is a myth. With Network Neutrality, they’ll continue to generate revenues in the billions from monthly subscription fees, access rates from content producers (who already pay a fortune to get onto the network), and by competing in the free market with their own content and applications. Getting rid of Network Neutrality is just an attempt to extract monopoly rents from a new revenue stream.

FACT 6: Telephone companies have received billion of dollars in public subsidies and private incentives to support network build-out. The phone companies say they should be able to do as they like with “their pipes.� But they ignore the billions of dollars in public subsidies and incentives they’ve received over the years that allow them to dig up public rights-of-way, build rural networks, and write off the depreciation of their wires. If they gave back even a fraction of the public money they’ve received, we could build fiber to every home in America.

FACT 7: There is little competition in the broadband market. Network owners argue that Network Neutrality is unnecessary because there is plenty of competition for broadband access to deter bad behavior. But cable and DSL now dominate 98 percent of the broadband market (and a significant portion of the country has only a single broadband provider or none at all). If both the cable and phone companies are using their networks to discriminate, the consumer is trapped. There is nowhere else to go.

FACT 8: Consumers will bear the costs for network infrastructure regardless of whether there is Network Neutrality. The network owners claim consumers will save money without Network Neutrality, because content providers will bear more of the delivery costs. But those costs will simply be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for consumer goods and Internet services. And with less competition on a “tiered Internet,� the network owners will be able to raise their own prices with impunity. Higher prices, fewer choices and less competition are bad for consumers.

FACT 9: Investing in increased bandwidth is the most efficient way to solve network congestion problems. There is more traffic flowing over the Internet every day. To avoid “traffic jams,� network operators have two choices. They can increase the bandwidth to accommodate all content providers on an equal basis; or they can maintain scarcity and charge providers for the privilege of getting through the bottlenecks. Without Network Neutrality, phone and cable companies have an economic incentive not to relieve the congestion.

FACT 10: Network owners have explicitly stated their intent to build business models based on discrimination. The Astroturf groups set up by the industry repeatedly claim that Network Neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. But consumer advocates aren’t imagining a doomsday scenario. In fact, the top executives of nearly every major telephone company have stated clearly in the pages of Business Week, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post that they intend to discriminate or degrade the content and services of their competitors who don’t pay for a spot in the fast lane.

FACT 11: The COPE Act will not deter discrimination but will tie the hands of the FCC from preventing it. The COPE Act’s Network Neutrality provisions are inadequate to safeguard the Internet; deliberately impede clear enforcement mechanisms; and leave the network operators free to discriminate against consumers and content producers on the Internet. Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey in the House — and Sens. Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan in the Senate — offers clean and simple solutions to fix these problems.

FACT 12: Supporters of Network Neutrality represent a broad, nonpartisan coalition that joins right and left, commercial and noncommercial interests. The campaign to preserve Network Neutrality protections is perhaps the most diverse set of public and private interests backing any single issue in Washington today. Hundreds of groups and hundreds of thousands of individuals from across the political spectrum are joining together to save this cornerstone principle of consumer choice and Internet freedom.

The aggressive level with which AT&T and Verizon are trying to push their message on consumers is an indication of just how much they stand to gain, and how much consumers stand to lose, if their anti-net-neutrality legislation is passed in Congress.

I have asked our US Senate candidates in Rhode Island to provide their positions on net neutrality so that voters know where they stand and whether they will defend the internet for consumers. So far, I have heard only from Sheldon Whitehouse’s campaign, who has not yet provided a response, but at least acknowledged receiving my question. Hopefully with a little more prodding I can get answers for Rhode Islanders on this crucial question affecting our consumer choices and our ability to use the internet for free speech, community organizing, and civic participation.

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