Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter
  7
Share on Facebook
  15
Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend
  3
25 Shares     
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats
No comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

What if Verizon Could Censor Your Telephone Conversations: Why Net Neutrality Matters

Become a Fan
  (6 fans)
By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H2 8/9/10

opednews.com

Imagine if you were talking on the phone and Verizon or ATT decided they didn't like where your conversation was going. You'd be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly disconnected. Or maybe they didn't like the person you were talking to, or the subject. You'd be unable to connect or your conversation would become so slow and poor quality you'd give up and call someone else. Or maybe you lived in an area of the country where they didn't want to give you telephone service. So you'd be unable to call at all. The telecom companies would justify all this by explaining that the fiber optic lines or wireless frequencies were simply their private property. They had a right, they'd say, to do whatever they wanted with them.

They can't do this because telephone service has long been held to common access standards. The Internet has similarly developed and flourished as a commons open to everyone, through what we've come to call Net Neutrality. But Bush's FCC ruled that all our new communications technologies were in a different category, effectively the property of their physical carriers. In the wake of this decision Verizon refused to distribute a text message alert from NARAL Pro Choice America and AT&T muted singer Eddie Vedder's criticism of President Bush during a live Pearl Jam webcast. The telecom companies are also pushing to be able to sell the right for websites or applications whose owners wanted them to load faster, while relegating other sites to second-class service. Such a shift would devastate nonprofits, small businesses, and all kinds of political advocacy groups, which couldn't afford the rates that the most lucrative sites could pay.

As a candidate Obama spoke out strongly for reversing this policy, promising to "take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality." His FCC appointees were at first strongly supportive of extending the protections of equal access to online technologies (which would make moot a federal court decision based on the Bush-era rulings). But now, following massive telecom company lobbying, they're seriously wavering. Google is now exploring a private deal with Verizon, where Google would pay for YouTube content to get higher priority delivery to consumers, shifting them from Net Neutrality advocate to de facto opponent. With a final FCC ruling coming any day now, an equal-access internet is now in serious jeopardy.

In the Soviet Union, cultural commissars determined who would see what information and in what context. In the US, it's corporations, and their choke-hold is about to get tighter unless we speak out and act. The fight to keep Net Neutrality has produced some important victories as when MoveOn and the Christian Coalition joined in an unlikely partnership to help block Congress from destroying Net Neutrality four years ago. FreePress.net, who's led on this issue all along, is now organizing now to help people speak out before final FCC decision. But we'd better act while we still have a chance if we don't want to be cut off in midstream from equitable access to all the new media whose promise and power we've come to take for granted.


Paul Loeb is the author of "Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times," recently published in a wholly updated new edition after 100,000 copies and The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear," the History Channel and American Book Association's #3 political book of 2004. For more information or to receive Loeb's articles directly, see www.paulloeb.org. To sign up on Facebook visit Facebook.com/PaulLoebBooks

 

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, and The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear,winner of the 2005 Nautilus Award for the best book on social change. See (more...)
 
Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican War on Reality

The Election Needs You, Broken Heart and All

Life Lessons From a Dying Friend

Soul of a Citizen: What Cynicism Costs Us

Stop the Anonymous Hit Men: Make Shadowy Campaign Money the Issue

'Will They Get What They're Paying For?' -- the Best Election Flier I've Seen

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments