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by Stephen Lendman
Friday, Aug. 13, 2010 at 9:12 AM
last free and open space in danger
Net Neutrality Threatened - by Stephen Lendman
This article follows two previous ones, accessed through the following links:
Free Press.net is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working for media reform through education, organizing and advocacy - Net Neutrality its defining issue, keeping it free and open, letting users access all content without restrictions, limitations, or discrimination, an online level playing field for everyone, the essence of democratic free speech. Without it, consumer choice will be lost, stolen by corporate predators, making the Internet look like cable TV, letting them decide what web sites, content and applications are available at what cost.
On August 4, New York Times writer Edward Wyatt headlined, "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers," saying:
These giants "are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege."
Content producers would pay more for preferential service, but consumers will also be affected, paying higher fees or losing out, sacrificing Net Neutrality, a "sacred tenet....in which no form of content is favored over another."
On August 5, Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires Scott Morrison headlined "2nd Google, Verizon Deny Tiered-Web Deal Report," saying:
Today, the two firms "denied a report saying (they) were to close an agreement that would allow the carrier to speed up the delivery of online content to Internet users if content creators paid for the privilege," subverting Net Neutrality in which all content is equally treated.
Verizon issued a statement saying:
"Our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect."
Google also denied The Times story saying:
"We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet.....We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google or YouTube traffic."
An earlier Wall Street Journal article said the two companies may soon announce an agreement they hope could be a model for legislation aimed to prevent telephone or cable companies from delaying or blocking Internet traffic. The Times, however, stands by its report.
Broadband companies want maximum customer revenue. Internet ones have long opposed prioritized traffic because it'll cost more, especially for popular sites like YouTube.
An August 6 freepress.com article by its Media Coordinator Jenn Ettinger headlined, "Company (Google) Claims to Support Open Internet but Remains Dodgy About Details of Deal with Verizon," saying:
"Google's 'denial'....leaves out many important details about the policy agreement being negotiated with Verizon....the company (falls short of openness) about its position on fundamental issues like 'managed services,' and how the Internet will be treated on wireless networks. Google has already entered into a lucrative partnership with Verizon to push its Android operating system for mobile phones."
S. Derek Turner, Free Press' Research Director added:
"Google's denial is just damage control, a sleight-of-hand-designed to deflect the growing public outcry against a company that once pledged 'don't be evil.' "
Turner said reports about Google and Verizon are worrisome. They're not denying their wireless network arrangement. "This means (not) only will pay-for priority be allowed, but (also) that companies like Verizon will be permitted to outright block websites that compete with it or its partners like Google."
Google/Verizon "Policy Framework" Announced
Now revealed, the deal is "worse than feared," according to Free Press' Communications Director Liz Rose and Jenn Ettinger, saying in a joint statement with MoveOn.Org Civic Action, Credo Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and ColorofChange.org, all members of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition:
"The Google-Verizon pact isn't just as bad as we feared - it's much worse. They are attacking the Internet while claiming to preserve it. Google users won't be fooled."
Here's their scheme - partial Net Neutrality, what "they'll likely stop investing in," in lieu of a new, deregulated, corporate-controlled Internet via fiber and wireless phones, where they "can pick and choose which sites people can easily view on their phones or any other Internet device using these networks."
It will let them block applications and "divide the information superhighway, creating new private fast lanes for the big players while leaving the little guy stranded on a winding dirt road."
Worse still, it will turn the FCC into a "toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing complaints and unable to make rules of its own."
Net Neutrality will be destroyed, removing the last free and open space, why it's crucial that the administration, Congress and the FCC reject the deal outright. The alternative is too grim to imagine.
Again, it will create two Internets, put two big players in charge, and pave the way for other giants to follow, the public left out entirely.
Free Press CEO/co-founder Josh Silver highlighted the threat in his August 5 article headlined, "Google-Verizon Deal: The End of the Internet as We Know It," asking:
How did this happen? We have (an FCC) that has been denied authority by the courts to police (Internet service provider) activities....because of a bad (Bush-era FCC) decision."
As a result, we have a "pro-industry" chairman cutting back room deals, a president who promised Net Neutrality now silently capitulating, and a Democrat-controlled Congress little more than corporate occupied territory, pushing sweeping, across-the-board-pro-business measures, stiff-arming their constituents.
The stakes are enormous. Digital democracy (the last media frontier) is on the line. If Google, phone and cable companies prevail, it's lost. They'll be self-regulating, able to charge what they wish, and block content freely.
Combined, telecom, broadcast and cable giants have lobbied fiercely for control - to establish online toll roads, or premium lanes, for users wanting speed and access. Others will get slower (and for some no) service, will have to pay for formerly free sites, and whatever corporate interests dislike will be censored or suppressed.
Ahead, all video, radio, phone and other services will be delivered online. Without Net Neutrality, thought control will replace free expression, corporate interests more than ever in control, a nightmarish vision essential to prevent, what only mass public outrage can and must do.
Net Neutrality is the defining issue of our time, preserving it a battle vital to win to maintain corporate-free space, crucial to defend at all costs. The stakes are that high.
After Wall Street, media giants already get more government handouts than any other industry, including:
-- monopoly licenses for radio, TV, satellite TV spectrum, cable TV and telephone, worth hundreds of billions of dollars combined;
-- free industrial spectrum TV, cable and telephone for internal use, worth many billions more;
-- lucrative postal subsidies;
-- federal, state and local film and TV production subsidies;
-- all levels of government advertising worth billions annually;
-- advertising expenditures as a business deductible expense;
-- electoral political advertising amounting to about 10% of TV ad revenue, and in depressed economic times even more;
-- government lobbying for media giants overseas for deregulated markets and subsidies diverted to them and other US companies; and
-- their largest handout - government-created/enforced copyrights, giving media giants monopoly power to consolidate to too-big-to fail status, the trend author Ben Bagdikian documented since 1983 in new editions of his landmark book, "The Media Monopoly," explaining how dozens of media companies combined into a handful of communication giants, controlling television, radio, newspapers, magazines, publishing, films, music, and more, the public be damned for profits.
Now the Internet is up for grabs, the last free expression space, threatened by profiteering predators partnered with a Capitol Hill/administration criminal class.
Highlighting the danger on Free Press, Silver explains that:
"phone and cable monopolies (controlling nearly) all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest," besides controlling what's published and what's not.
They want unregulated power "to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can't pay," shutting down the last free and open space, stealing it for themselves, a mass-awakening needed to stop them before it's too late.
A Final Comment
Under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act, FCC officials can stop this piracy, using its delegated authority to write rules, not pass the buck to Congress or let industry giants self-regulate. With digital democracy on the line, it's high time public outrage demanded nothing less. The stakes are that high.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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