My guest today is progressive political activist and frequent OpEdNews contributor, PEN. Welcome back to OpEdNews, PEN.
Joan Brunwasser: Today we're going to talk about net neutrality. I'm not sure that I've ever had the issue explained to me clearly. Would you like to take a crack at it?
PEN: Hello again, Joan. As usual, you are right on top of the most critical and timely issues. We consider this the mother of all policy actions, because unless the internet is truly free to carry our communications on a level playing field, as it was intended, all other advocacy actions are in danger of being restricted. What the big telecom corporations want to do is discriminate on the internet against content, in the first instance based on how much the content providers can pay, but it also encompasses the threat of discrimination based on the political nature of that content. The fight for net neutrality is to stop them from doing that.
JB: Other than the almighty profit motive, who could oppose the need for net neutrality? It seems like something we can all agree on and then work together to achieve. Am I missing something basic here?
PEN: One of our participants in this action made the point that the big cable TV companies, who also provide internet connections to many people, want to change the internet according to their model, where THEY control what channels you have access to through their systems, and there is a huge financial hurdle you have to pay them to have access to their subscribers through one of "their" channels. So, without an enforcement of the principle of net neutrality, they could demand toll fees from you as a web site creator not to slow down your connections to people who want to visit your site. And if permitted to do that, it's a short hop to having them block those connections altogether on a political basis.
JB: Are you talking about censorship? How does that figure in here?
PEN: This is not some hypothetical danger. In 2008 we were working with Shirley Golub, the ONLY person to ever challenge Nancy Pelosi in her own primary. And we had a hard-hitting TV spot that regular TV stations were running, but Comcast refused to run this PAID ad, and never did. This is the same Comcast that is seeking approval to buy up Time Warner to consolidate everything even more. They are the last people we can trust with our internet freedom.