If a website is built, and nobody can access it, does it make a noise? (Net Neutrality developments)
By Laura Scott on July 18, 2007
BlogHer Original Post
On Monday, the FCC deadline for submitting comments regarding Net Neutrality passed.
Individual Internet users, trade groups and advocacy organizations filed about 670 comments about net neutrality rules with the FCC Monday. Individuals and organizations have submitted nearly 29,000 comments on net neutrality since the FCC opened its inquiry in late March. Net neutrality advocates want the FCC or the U.S. Congress to prohibit large broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing Web content from competitors. Many of the comments Monday came from individual Internet users who asked the FCC to protect them against new fees that they fear broadband providers could charge Web content providers. "Keep the corporations off our rights," wrote Internet user Jack McFarley of Washington state....According to SaveTheInternet, 95% of the comments supported Net Neutrality.
In a landslide of public support, well over 95 percent of the comments called for rules that prohibit phone and cable companies from seeing through their plans to become the new gatekeepers to the Internet â€” deciding which Web sites and services users get to download before others. Internet users from all 435 congressional districts used SavetheInternet.comâ€™s online tools to urge the FCC to protect Internet freedom. Net Neutrality supporters include a full range of small business owners, students, churchgoers, bloggers, political candidates, educators and activists who took the time to tell the agency that protecting Net Neutrality is fundamental to their family life, work and interests.[I pause for a brief disclosure: I am a founding partner of a company that supports Net Neutrality. Like the vast majority of small businesses out there, we benefit from unrestricted access to all public websites on the internet. More behind the link.] Yesterday in The Nation, John Nichols wrote:
The genius of the Internet, from the distant moment of its inception to the present day, has been its tendency toward openness, freedom and equality. On the great frontier of digital communications, there have been no fences. Every website has been treated equally. Once an American logs on, he or she has known that it is as easy to get to Wal-Mart Watch's dissident www.walmartwatch.com site as it is to reach the retail giant's corporate site. It is as easy to go to visit George Bush's official White House location on the Web as it is to visit the folks at www.afterdowningstreet.org, who would like very much to remove the president and everyone he rode in with. In 2005, however, the Federal Communications Commission, began to attack the Net Neutrality rules that for decades have guaranteed a level playing field for every web site. They did so under pressure from "old-media" telecommunications corporations -- mostly in the cable and phone sectors -- that want to "own" the web. If Net Neutrality, the first amendment of the Internet, is completely eliminated in the manner favored by the telecommunications giants, then cable and phone companies can make a fortune by providing high-speed connections to sites that pay for the the service while discriminating against sites that do not pay. Eliminating Net Neutrality cuts off the potential of the internet, by opening the way for colonization of the World Wide Web by telecommunications corporations that would amplify the voices of the wealthy and powerful while they effectively silence dissent.So while the FCC presumably pores through the oodles of messages, there is a bipartisan effort pending in Congress to codify the reality of an unrestricted internet into law.
Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) aired their views in a joint letter (PDF) filed with the Federal Communications Commission just before the Monday deadline for remarks on an open inquiry into "broadband industry practices." The senators said they were pleased that the FCC was showing interest in the issue but "would have preferred the commission take the more concrete step of proposing rules to guarantee Internet freedom".... ...Back in January, Dorgan and Snowe reintroduced their Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which would bar such arrangements. (A Republican-controlled Congress repeatedly defeated similar efforts last year.)... ...[FCC] Chairman Kevin Martin agreed in March to open an official inquiry into whether stronger language should be added--drawing complaints from the FCC's two Democratic commissioners, who wanted a bolder commitment on the spot. Martin has made it clear he believes no new regulations are needed and that his agency already has ample authority to police any complaints about discrimination that arise. The Federal Trade Commission recently reached similar conclusions after finishing its own inquiry. That report, however, doesn't appear to be derailing plans by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) to reintroduce his own Net neutrality bill sometime after Labor Day.Culturekitchen's Liza Sabater points out that TimeWarner, a big Net Neutrality opponent, has managed to lobby its way into sweetheart treatment in other areas.
The new postal increase drafted by TimeWarner-AOL and approved by the PRC favors large bulk mail users like the magazine publishing divisions of TimeWarner-AOL by increasing the rate of small independent publishers by as much as 20%. Just to put things into perspective, for a publication like The Nation, this translates into paying $500,000 extra in postage yearly and in perpetuity (or until the next postal increase comes along). As Teresa Stark put it in Disseminate Information, Protect Democracy, "While it is understandable that Time Warner would relish the idea of making it more difficult for new competitors, there is no reason to think that it is in the interest of the American people or the market economy. [Emphases in original.]The same principle applies with the internet itself. Meanwhile, in a security-related note, independent, open source browser Firefox -- which, market share-wise, is gaining ground on Microsoft's proprietary Internet Explorer, especially in Europe -- has a new security update available. Everyone using Firefox should click on Help -> Check for Updates to download the latest version. Oh, and for the record:
Mozilla wrote, "this fix only prevents Firefox and Thunderbird from accepting bad data." And it stated in boldface, "this patch does not fix the vulnerability in Internet Explorer."I wonder ... without Net Neutrality, would an open source project like Firefox have the big bucks to pay off the telecom giants to allow people to download these upgrades? Even if Microsoft paid for an exclusive deal? More reading: While surfing around on this topic, I found this post by knute appearing on the blog of a small business, Zen Computers:
As of the 1996 telecom act a concept called â€œnet neutralityâ€ was outlined and became the standard for all information crossing through the net. In essence it means that all packets of information are to be treated equally regardless of their type, content or origin. This means that my blog is given the same anonymous treatment as the New York Times website, or Google, etc. This is infinitely important to the internet as itâ€™s what makes using the web so great. You can choose to go anywhere you want unhindered and of your own accord. Itâ€™s all about the personal choice. Currently all the ISPâ€™s (internet service providers) and Telcos (telephone companies) can do is route your traffic without actually looking at what it contains. Itâ€™s all treated equally without any preferential treatment. An email to your grandmother is treated the same as a million dollar order for computer parts. This works great and again itâ€™s what makes the internet, wellâ€¦. The internet. So, for the last couple of years the lobbyists of these media companies have been pushing our Congress (*COUGH* - Ted Stevens from Alaska - *COUGH*) to redraft this legislation and leave out net neutrality language. Why on earth would they do that? Well, for starters I suspect some campaign contributions had something to do with it. In reality I donâ€™t know why, but I can tell you it will change everything. In hearing Senator Stevens testify in Congress about the reasons we need this it fills me with one clear thought. He has obviously no idea what he is talking about. You can listen for yourself here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=f99PcP0aFNE The last person I want to decide how the internet works is someone like Ted Stevens. Note to Sen. Stevens â€“ itâ€™s NOT a series of tubes! In any case, he has been confused into thinking there is a problem by the big companies so he will legislate the freedom right out of the internet and turn it into nothing more than a glorified television. Likely the main reason companies want to remove this neutrality is they see the large amounts of money that companies like Google are making and they claim, Youtube, Google, etc are â€œgetting a free lunch.â€ To me this is ridiculous and anyone who has ever looked into the price of a commercial T1 line or a connection like Google and Youtube pay for can tell you it is definitely NOT free. Quite simply the ISPâ€™s and Telcos want to provide you with internet service and also tell you what to see and become content providers.There's a lot more there. I could go on, but without an exclusive deal to block your ability to read anything else, I'm afraid I'd just bore you to death. Technorati: blogs on Net Neutrality Tech & Web Contributing Editor Laura Scott blogs about Net Neutrality and other topics at pingVision and rare pattern.
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