Archive for May 17th, 2006

What Is Network Neutrality and Why Should I Care?

May 17, 2006 @ 2:59 am | Filed under:

We like our internet. We like being able to get online and clickety click click wherever we like. We pay our monthly ISP fee and then click, the World Wide Web is world-wide open to us.

Some folks want to change that.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and other telephone and cable companies would like to be able to control the flow of information on the internet. Here’s how my hubby explains it:

The government is thinking about allowing Internet Service Providers to decide what websites you can or cannot go to, and who can or cannot send you emails. In other words, if this goes through, you may not be able to link to Left of the Dial* unless I’ve paid your specific ISP a fee. Otherwise I’ll get blackballed. Kinda like legalized payola.

* (Or, say, Spunky. Or FUN Books. Or even Google, if they haven’t paid up.)

Net Neutrality is the opposite of that scenario. Net Neutrality is what we’ve got now.

Here’s what’s happening:

The telephone and cable companies are filling up congressional campaign coffers and hiring high-priced lobbyists. They’ve set up “Astroturf” groups like “Hands Off the Internet” to confuse the issue** and give the appearance of grassroots support.

Congress is now considering a major overhaul of the Telecommunications Act. The primary bill in the House is called the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006” and is sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Charles Pickering (R-Miss.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The current version of the COPE Act (HR 5252) includes watered-down Net Neutrality provisions that are essentially meaningless. An amendment offered by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), which would have instituted real Net Neutrality requirements, was defeated in committee after intense industry lobbying against it.

**Case in point: the ad in my sidebar. What it calls the truth isn’t really.

We mustn’t ignore this issue. You can read more about it here and here.