AUDIO FILE: The Internet at Risk
At a Press Conference today, October 18, 2006, held at Powell's Books on West Burnside in Portland, Senator Ron Wyden spoke about Network Neutrality and the fight in Congress over the future of the internet. He was joined by local business owners and concerned citizens who delivered more than 20,000 petitions from Oregon residents supporting Net Neutrality.
(*Adapted from information in the Media Packet*)|
Net Neutrality is the longstanding principle that ensures all Web sites and services are treated equally. This fundamental principle, in place since the Internet was created, prevents Internet service providers from discriminating against content or services traveling over their wires based on which companies pay them the most.
Big telephone and cable companies like AT&T, Qwest and Comcast are spending millions lobbying Congress to eliminate Net Neutrality. Congress is now considering a major overhaul of the nation's telecommunication laws. The House Bill (H.B. 5252) passed earlier in the year and the Senate Bill (S.B. 2686) was passed out of Committee earlier this summer.
Wyden placed a hold on this major telecommunications legislation which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee until clear language is included that prevents discrimination in Internet access. Read the
Wyden Press Release
How does the threat to Net Neutrality affect you?
* Entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay internet providers for dominant placement in the Web. Startup companies, left with inferior internet services, will be unable to compete.
* Political Groups could be slowed by a handful of dominant internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their Web sites to work.
* Bloggers' costs to post video and audio clips may skyrocket--silencing citizen journalists and limiting the range of debate about important current events.
When we log onto the Internet, we take a lot for granted.
We assume we'll be able to access whatever Web site we want, whenever we want, at the same speed-whether it's a Big Media or mom-and-pop site. We assume that we can use any service we like-watch online video, listen to podcasts or instant-message-anytime we choose.
What makes all these assumptions possible is Network Neutrality, the fundamental principle that prevents Internet providers from discriminating against content based on its ownership or source.
Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech online.
Net Neutrality has been part of the Internet since its inception, but now it's in jeopardy.
As a consequence of the 2005 FCC decision, the longstanding protection against discrimination online was abolished. Now the cable and telephone companies are pushing to block legislation that would reinstate Net Neutrality.
The biggest cable and telephone companies want to decide which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all.
Content providers who won't (or can't) pay a toll will see their sites slowed down, and their applications and devices may not work as well. While big corporate sites ride in the fast lane on the information superhighway, the rest of us will be left behind on a winding dirt road.
The consequences of a world without Net Neutrality would be devastating and far-reaching
Innovation would be stifled, competition limited and access to information restricted,. Consumer choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporate executives. The free and open Internet brings with it the revolutionary possibility that any Internet site could have the reach of a TV or radio station. The loss of Net Neutrality would end this unparalleled opportunity for freedom of expression.
For more information Save the Internet
An excellent report, "The Case for Preserving Network Neutrality: Keep Innovation and Competition on the Internet" can be found at: American Electronics Association, Competitiveness Series, Volume 11
And, let's not forget that these same Bills take aim at Public Access television and seek to reduce or eliminate local control over the "rent" paid by internet and cable providers. These "franchise fees" have been determined locally, and should remain the province of local governments who know how best to serve their own technology and communication needs.
Some Web sites on this facet of the Telecom Bills:
Free Press, Defending Local Access
The Press Conference was introduced by Michael Powell, Powell's Books. Michael then introduced Senator Ron Wyden, who spoke about the importance of Net Neutrality and then introduced Laura Atherton of OSPIRG. Following Laura was Rich Bader of Easy Street Online Services, Alan Davidson of Google, and finally, Bruce Fife, American Federation of Musicians local chapter 99 and Oregon Alliance to Reform the Media..
All spoke eloquently about the necessity for Net Neutrality, in various facets of our lives. Their remarks took about 25 minutes and the remainder of the 38 minute file is open to Q & A. The questions are often muffled, but I think the gist of the question comes through and the answer often is pretty much self explanatory.
The Internet at Risk, RealPlayer
The Internet at Risk, MP3
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