The Internet is changing how we interact with the world. As we interact with the Internet, it reshapes us in ways that we have yet to fully comprehend.
The digital age is a major historical shift. Like the industrial revolution, it is changing nearly every aspect of life — including political systems, economic power, gender roles, and where and how we live.
And the most important part about the Internet: It was all built on a level playing field called Net Neutrality .
The Internet is changing how we live
Welcome to the revolution Net Neutrality is this:
Net Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.
It ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice.
Under Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
I can browse to my cousin's blog just as easily as I can to CNN.com
I can can download music from an indy band’s site just as easily as I can from Sony’s Web site.
Changing this system would give unfair advantage to deep-pocketed content providers, while start-ups, small businesses, artists, musicians and others who can't pay will be sidelined. Since the Internet's inception, every site, every packet of data, regardless of its size, has been given equal — neutral — treatment by providers; its content is transmitted at equal speed.
Net Neutrality is about innovation The neutral network has become a wonderland for entrepreneurs. It’s important to remember that the Internet’s name brands of today were just a good idea in a garage a decade ago.
College kids working out of their garage created Google.
A hobbyist conceived the idea for eBay.
An Israeli teenager wrote the code for Instant Messaging.
The most popular sites on the Internet today— MySpace, FaceBook, and YouTube—didn’t exist three years ago.
This technological revolution keeps turning as long as the Internet remains an unrestricted marketplace of ideas where innovators rise and fall on their merits.
Net Neutrality is the Internet … This fundamental notion of an open and level playing field is NOW under siege by powerful industries who seek to tilt the field to their advantage. ... and it’s under threat Net Neutrality is the reason that the Internet has been an explosion of online economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech.
How did this happen? What ever happened to the idea of the MASS media? Let’s review …
The technology to build newspapers could facilitate the construction of a press for about $10,000 in current money. In the early days, there were pamphleteers who produced arguments that they could spread broadly because the cost of access to that distribution was low. But that cost changed dramatically. By the time of the civil war, the cost of running a newspaper was about $2.5 million. Newspaper publishing and journalism professionalized and commercialized pushing aside broad public participation in popular print media. Newspapers?
In the 1920s radio was a COMMON technology, in the sense that an extraordinary range of people could gain access to a new and relatively cheap technology — broadcasting — to send messages to one another over the air. But once people began to think that they could begin to make commercial radio function through advertising the Federal Communications Commission began to implement a very different idea about how radio would function. Working with business, government allocated the spectrum in a way that made it so only a few could get access to the airwaves. By the mid 1930s NBC and CBS were responsible for an astounding 97% of nighttime broadcasting. The number of radio station owners has plummeted by 34% since the 1996 Telecommunications Act. That year, the biggest radio owners controlled fewer than 65 stations. Today, Clear Channel Communications — one company — owns more than 1,200 stations. Radio?
Television suffered much the same fate in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Through well-financed lobbyists, television broadcasters gained overwhelming influence in Washington. Broadcasters spent $222 million to lobby government officials from 1998 to 2004. including millions on entertainment and travel, taking FCC regulators on 2,500 all-expense-paid trips. As a result television broadcasting policy was shaped in closed-door meetings with policymakers. So, even though the public owned the airwaves, special interests decided how this influential media was created, financed, and distributed. There developed an interdependence between those who held political power (and needed access to the airwaves) and those who controlled the airwaves (and needed access to political power). Television?
What happened to the Mass Media… It's gotten so bad that today, Instead of nurturing and extending democracy and free speech, broadcasting threatens to distort it. The media industry and their lobbyists in Washington worked hand in hand with policymakers to shape a system that hands control of mass media over to a few corporations. In all of these cases what were describing is a dramatic technological change that initially sparks an explosion of democratic participation. But this explosion threatens the status quo. And those threatened react. Their reaction is to take a culture that had been unlocked by technological change and to re-lock it.
What happened to stifle openness and limit access to publishing and broadcasting could very well happen with the public Internet right now. … could happen to the Internet A handful of phone and cable companies are promising to build a new network of Internet services. But they want something in return. They want control. Not just over the copper wires, and fiber optics cables but control over the Internet itself. They’re pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment — this principle called Network Neutrality — which prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you based on what site pays them the most.
The threat to an open internet isn't just speculation — we've seen what happens when the gatekeepers get too much control over radio and television. Phone and cable companies are now hatching plans to discriminate online. The threat is real William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told the Washington Post that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc. Ed Whitacre of AT&T told Business Week that he was no longer going to let people "use his pipes for free ... there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using."
Google users —Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer. Ipod listeners —A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned. Political groups —Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their websites and online features to work correctly. Online purchasers —Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower prices—distorting your choice as a consumer. Small businesses and tele-commuters —When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won't be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office. Bloggers —Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips—silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets. How would this affect you
In order to do this the phone and cable companies need to change the laws. And they're spending money in Washington to get it done. In the past 10 years, they have spent more than half a billion dollars on campaign contributions, political action committees, PR firms and high-spending lobbyists to push through self-interested policies. On the issue of Net Neutrality alone, companies like AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth and Comcast have spent more than $100 million to push Congress to remove this longstanding nondiscrimination rule. As with radio and television, the industry lobby is outspending all others to set the policy agenda and write new laws that will hand them control over the public Internet. Changing the law But they didn't anticipate one thing....
In 2006, a grassroots coalition of more than 850 groups including educators, not-for-profits, consumer rights groups, small business and public advocates — banded together to protect Internet freedom. They were joined by more than a million people who signed a petition urging Congress to maintain the free and open Internet. More than 6,000 bloggers linked to the coalition's site, SavetheInternet.com, many of them posting homemade videos to counteract the phone companies’ misinformation campaign. Online social networks formed around the issue at MySpace, FaceBook and YouTube. We all joined together to protest phone and cable company efforts in Washington to kill Net Neutrality. The public
This grassroots campaign lifted the crucial issue of Net Neutrality from obscurity, throwing a wrench in the phone and cable giants’ plan to overhaul our telecommunications laws behind closed doors. Mass public opposition stalled efforts by Congress and the phone and cable lobby to pass legislation that would have effectively killed Net Neutrality. Whereas before, the phone companies had been confident that Congress would simply sign-off on industry-written legislation, today no member of Congress can vote with the telecom cartel without feeling the full heat of public scrutiny. And we won
Near the top of the Congress’ new agenda will be restoring Net Neutrality. Many in Congress came to this realization after receiving more than a million letters and tens of thousands of phone calls from concerned citizens urging them to maintain a free and open Internet. The plan for 2007 and beyond is to continue to organize people across the country to ensure that Congress writes Net Neutrality into law. SavetheInternet.com What’s ahead