Internet Wars, Part 5 AT&T wins-so far
In case you haven’t been following the debate over “net neutrality,” it is a concept that has been an integral part of the Internet since its birth. Simply stated, the Internet should be available to anyone who can gain access to it, free of taxation by any government, and free of any control over the ideas and information that flow through it.
Yesterday, the House passed the Communications, Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006. As the act now reads, the mega-communication corporations now have carte blanche to:
*build their towers anywhere they want (local officials will no longer be able to restrict them),
*“redline” entire neighborhoods (translation: blacks and other minorities) by refusing to provide access to the Internet via cable or wireless simply because...,
*charge for various levels of bandwidth, which pretty much guarantees that low income users–and small businesses– will have to pay high fees for greater bandwidth or be held to speeds approaching basic dialup,
*make arrangements with, for example, certain search engines to steer business to them and away from other search engines,
*black out ISPs that contain sites that the corporations and/or their political friends do not want people to see (it has already happened in Canada)
There is still a sliver of hope: the bill now goes to the Senate. So the onus falls to them to uphold or change the provisions. But even if the Senate adds net neutrality, the two bills will then go to a Conference Committee that will reconcile them, so the concept would still not be safe.
So contact Stabenow and Levin: tell them to support net neutrality.