Wed, 11 June 2014
The pending “internet fast lane” proposal advanced by President Obama's FCC chairman and telecom lobbyist Tom Wheeler isn't the end of the world, but it is the end of the internet as we know it. The FCC's proposal establishes the legal right of telecom monopolies to apply “market-based” charges for any kind of internet service they choose, for any reason they might invent.
So-called “fast internet lanes” will be given to wealthy corporations like ABC-Disney, CBS-Viacom, NetFlix, HBO, ESPN, YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook, which can afford to pay millions for the privilege of reaching you. Comcast, the biggest backbone owner and internet provider also owns NBC-Universal, including MSNBC, so they and other telecom monopolies will reserve the “fast lane” for their own content as well.
But under the FCC's current proposal, every other kind of internet traffic may be restricted, throttled, subjected to random tolls and extra charges, as long as these are justified by “market logic.” What kinds of internet content will suffer?
Before the 60 day comment period on these new rules began on May 15, the FCC had already received more than 3 million pleas from the public NOT to end network neutrality, the technical name for the principle that all content from every provider should be freely available to all comers over the internet. This should have stopped the FCC and the Obama administration in its tracks. But the White House and the FCC are not listening.
It will take a vigorous and sustained public outcry to stop the FCC from turning the internet, originally designed and built by government employees with billions of your tax dollars, into a privatized corporate plantation, much like cable TV.
It's a political question, but not a partisan one. Democrats and Repubicans, omnivores and vegans, libertarians and socialists, anarchists and independents, artists, small businesses and everyone who believes the people's conversation should not be subjected to the whims of the market and monopolists ought to be in motion these next 30 days.
So send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before July 15, but also get a half dozen or more of your friends to go down to your local congressman's office. Better yet, call a loud and disrespectful public meeting demanding that the internet be madea public utility, like it is in Taiwan or South Korea. Whatever you do though, do it now, before July 15, before the open internet is history.