Will The Public Ever Get Energized About Net Neutrality?

al franken

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota)

Net Neutrality

Sometimes I wonder what it is going to take to get the public more galvanized on the issue of protecting Net Neutrality. As if the Supreme Court’s enthusiastic approval of oligarchy wasn’t enough, we’re facing another one of the biggest threats to free speech and democracy – corporate control of the Web.

Basically, the telecommunications industry wants to erect tollbooths on the Internet. They want to make content creators pay top dollar for their web sites to download faster. They want to choose winners and losers, get rid of competition and make consumers cough up more money. Gutting net neutrality is great if you’re a certain cable company, like, say, Comcast, who wants to merge with a certain entertainment company, like, say, NBC Universal, and combined, you wish to crush any troublesome Internet entertainment startup. Gutting net neutrality would also be great news for the giant television news outlets and bad news for any of the myriad of web sites that criticize them.

Unfortunately, net neutrality was never the sexiest political issue. So maybe the announcement last week that Google and Verizon were proposing to put up the tollbooths on the wireless Internet (your smartphone) would wake people up. Google was initially the premier corporate champion of net neutrality, so the company’s about-face shocked and angered many. Apparently, since Google is now getting into the cell phone business, suddenly net neutrality was no longer good for the bottom line.

Google and Verizon swear they want to keep the wired Internet (your PC) free and open, but the proverbial camel’s nose is sniffing under that tent. Consumer and media reform groups and some lawmakers have been the most vocal advocates for net neutrality. But greater support for net neutrality has to come from average Joes and Janes who use the Web. Too many people I fear are still apathetic on this issue. If you don’t start bugging your representatives, you may one day find that your favorite web sites are taking five minutes or more to load. Or you may find you have to pay extra for content you once got for free.

Comedian and now U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has been at the forefront in fighting for net neutrality in Congress. Today, at 4PM PST (6PM Central), the Federal Communications Commission is holding ahearing in Minneapolis on the issue. The proceedings will be streamed live.

In the video below, Franken talks on local Minnesota television about the importance of net neutrality.

sylvia moore

Below are some good opinion pieces about net neutrality:

Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It
Our view on ‘net neutrality’: Don’t erect tollbooths on information superhighway

To show your support for net neutrality, sign Sen. Franken’s petition and send your comments to the FCC by going to Save the Internet. And also, call, write and fax your congressperson and senators. If you don’t know your representatives, you can look them up by entering your zip code on Congress.org.

Sylvia Moore

Reposted with permission from the LA Media Reform.


  1. says

    NN is failing because the NN leadershp haven’t come up with a compelling set of issues. Right now, it’s just “equal access to content”. It should be “equal access for everyone” and bring in a range of consumer issues – because NN is a foundational policy that affects control over content and classification of ISPs.

    Right now, the internet is NOT equal, despite what the previous poster (and I think what many middle class NN advocates think). The poor, Latinos and African Americans are under-netted. All consumers in America are overcharged, by around 3x to 10x what consumers in other countries pay. Also, home users aren’t equal to servers — our downstream is faster than our upstream.

    Our mobile services are also un-equal. Data for SMS messages costs a lot more than data for the internet, and costs a lot more per bit than telephone conversations.

    And all mobile internet costs more than home internet. Latinos and African Americans get more of their internet via phone… so they ultimately pay more for internet than whites and Asian Americans.

    We need to become equally netted, with equal access.

    We need roughly equal pricing with the rest of the first world.

    We need equal pricing for bits.

    Network Neutrality can bring us this, by driving the cost of internet down with extreme competition.

  2. marie says

    Corporate control of the web?
    Right now internet is a great source of information and educating tool for anyone who likes to learn and know. Young, old, rich and POOR have equal assess.
    When it all gets in-hand of one, or just a few big corporations, price will go up and the lower-income people will fish behind the net.
    Result? The top becomes more powerful. The gap between haves and have-nots widens.
    Same results with the TV-news-stations and Newspapers. They will only publish what they want us to know or believe.
    Corporations want to keep us dumb and obedient, using us for their own profits. A well-informed public creates troubles for them.

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