If the cable and phone companies that transmit Internet data are allowed to charge higher rates to some producers for faster service the result will be “a ten pin strike against political freedom,” a prominent legal authority warns.
That’s because the change will enable the wealthy to “quickly take over the high speed transmissions (for their trash commercial content) just as they completely monopolize radio and TV, and just as their incredibly greedy profit-seeking has had a very deleterious effect on print journalism,” writes Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.
Velvel’s plea for “internet neutrality” comes in his new book “An Enemy of The People,” subtitled “The Unending Battle Against Conventional Wisdom(Doukathsan).”
Essentially, he writes, the proposed change is an “attempt by the wealthy to make the internet into yet another repository of their power…” Under the new scheme sought by transmission firms, Velvel writes, “large companies would pay more, no doubt a lot more, in order to have their messages, videos, audios, and any other content transmitted rapidly. The rest of us peasants, who could not afford to have our content move fast, would pay less and have it move more slowly.”
“One can be sure that the average guy with something he wants to say will be relegated to lower speed transmissions,” Velvel writes. “Blogdom, and the use of the internet by average people for political purposes, will likely be as good as dead.”
According to Save The Internet.com(STI), “The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies ---including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner---want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all.”
“What we have here,” Velvel explained, “is a bunch of unregenerate capitalists, who think that nothing else is important except trying to make as much as they can conceivably get away with. As with the oil companies and the investments banks, huge profit margins and scores of millions annually for their chairmen and CEOs isn’t enough for them. They want more. Always more. Nothing else matters to them. The pipes (transmission) companies are no different.”
Velvel pointed out, “The average guy can’t be published in a newspaper, and cannot afford the money to pay to be on radio or television. His voice is limited. The great benefit of the internet, the reason it bade fair to be the new version of the poor man’s printing press (which is what picketing and marching were once called), is that it gave everyone a chance to have his or her say in a way that was immediately available to anyone who found it or knew of it and wanted to read it.”
“That is why tens of millions of blogs sprang up,” Velvel continued, “with (at least) many thousands of them being on political subjects, and with blogdom sometimes having major political impacts.” Others besides Velvel have also commented on efforts to destroy net neutrality. As a consequence of a 2005 decision by the Bush Federal Communications Commission, Internet Neutrality, “the foundation of the free and open internet---was put in jeopardy,” STI says.
“Now cable and phone company lobbyists are pushing to block legislation that would reinstate Net Neutrality.” “Without Net Neutrality, startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay for a top spot on the Web,” STI says. “If Congress turns the Internet over to the telephone and cable giants, everyone who uses the Internet will be affected,” STI continues.
“Connecting to your office could take longer if you don’t purchase your carrier’s preferred applications. Sending family photos and videos could slow to a crawl. Web pages you always use for online banking, access to health care information, planning a trip, or communicating with friends and family could fall victim to pay-for-speed schemes.” STI warned the consequences of abandoning Internet Neutrality would be “devastating.”
“Innovation would be stifled, competition limited, and access to information restricted. Choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporate executives.”
(Reach Sherwood Ross, media consultant to Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, at firstname.lastname@example.org)