Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Put It In Neutral

This is fascinating, and worrisome. Contact your representative.

Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called "Network neutrality" that 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. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.

Net Neutrality allows everyone to compete on a level playing field and is the reason that the Internet is a force for economic innovation, civic participation and free speech. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online.

This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Canada's version of AT&T -- Telus -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom Telus was negotiating. And Shaw, a major Canadian cable company, charges an extra $10 a month to subscribers who dare to use a competing Internet telephone service.

I've already contacted my reps. I suggest that you do the same. The internet is one of the few truly democratizing forces in the world, and there are a lot of people who don't like it. Here's a map that displays information on what representatives have taken a stance, and which way they've leaned. It makes the act of contacting your legislators almost painfully-easy.

Exercise your democratic responsibility and make a phone call.

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