Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hands Off Net Neutrality!

This letter (about halfway down the page) appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning concerning Net Neutrality, written by Mike McCurry and Christopher Wolf of the Hands Off The Internet Coalition, which sounds like a do-right, civic-oriented bunch; the problem is that it’s being bankrolled by the telecoms who want to do exactly what McCurry and Wolf claim Net Neutrality will do.

There is no need for vast new Internet "neutrality" regulations because American Web users already have significant protection against online discrimination. Well-established federal rules guarantee consumers' right to access the legal content of their choice and specifically prohibit any broadband provider from interfering.

Equally important is the inevitable harm to consumers if Congress gets involved in regulating the Internet. The Communications Workers of America has repeatedly urged Congress to oppose these new rules, citing higher prices for Internet users, fewer choices, and a slow-down in industry job growth. The impact on jobs is particularly troubling since America already lags far behind other nations in providing affordable high-speed Internet service.

Many historically underserved areas remain in need of high-speed access choices. But suffocating regulations that curb job growth will only delay or halt the deployment of new networks in these areas - and keep costs unnecessarily high for all of us.
OK, guys, nice work to peddle your load of crap to everyone. Here’s too much money – now go spend it however you want, having done your part to try and cripple innovation and free expression.

I’ve been meaning to get around to this anyway because of a column that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last week (9/15), which may be the worst drivel I’ve ever read on this issue.

User, Beware, Your Internet Freedom Is In Danger
Nothing like a good "scare" headline, is there?

Sam Zeisloft is the former Pennsylvania Christian Coalition chairman and Erie County Republican chairman. Clay Mankameyer is the former Pennsylvania Christian Coalition executive director and the former Christian Coalition Northeastern Regional Director.
By the way, “former” is noteworthy here because the Christian Coalition supports Net Neutrality – this issue reaches across partisan political lines.

As a free marketplace of ideas, the Internet has flourished throughout the world. Without government interference, the Internet has proved to be fertile ground for American entrepreneurs, making countless fortunes for investors and private citizens.
Primarily in the 90s through both diligent, hard work and IPOs of stock inflated by people like Frank Quattrone; the authors conveniently fail to mention that Al Gore helped secure funding for development during that time as Vice President.

Some parties who have taken advantage of this unrestricted area of opportunity now want to scare and confuse Americans into unfair regulations that will ultimately stifle the freedom and growth of the Internet.

Large companies, like Google and eBay, are using complicated language to deceive Americans about proposed regulations that only help these companies’ bottom lines while hurting consumers and internet providers. They’ve even misnamed the issue “Net Neutrality” claiming to want fair and equal access for all. It sounds great, until you realize what they’re actually saying.
To learn what Net Neutrality is all about, by the way, click here, particularly since the writers don’t bother to explain it of course. As you can see, there’s an incredibly diverse group of people and organizations supporting this fine cause.

Take for example your experience with this newspaper. You paid a few cents for today’s edition and the advertisers who bought space throughout the paper paid the rest.

Readers, advertisers, and the paper itself all benefit from this. But if “newspaper neutrality” regulations were imposed, its effect on readers like you would be like the government saying the paper can no longer charge advertisers for space, therefore all the costs of the newspaper would be shifted to you, the reader.
The authors don’t really explain what net neutrality is before they attack it – I can say a lot more here about the how the costs for community web sites such as blogs and others are assumed by the authors and site proprietors and are relatively cheap vs. newspaper costs, so the comparison is ridiculous, and the telecoms that oppose net neutrality have been getting tax breaks and have been allowed to charge whatever fees they want for years, so the playing field isn’t equal to begin with.

The incredibly disingenuous “inside out” argument by people like McCurry and their ilk is that net neutrality will lead to increased usage fees because of government regulation, which is ridiculous of course. The fees will go up anyway, unfortunately – it’s a matter of how much and how quickly. The real issue is whether or not the telecoms, under the guise of collecting fee revenue, use this as an opportunity to impose usage restrictions (not really a question actually, since that’s already going on, as noted here).

So what is net neutrality exactly?
Oh, so NOW you’re going to try and explain it after you’ve criticized it? Nice…

Well, here’s the FCC’s definition as described in a May Wall Street Journal editorial…
That’s an unbiased source...sure it is.

“Enter Net Neutrality, which has so far found its only official expression in a non-binding policy statement issued by the FCC last year. The FCC statement says, ‘consumers are entitled’ to the ‘content,’ ‘applications,’ and ‘devices’ of their choice on the Internet. They are also ‘entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.’”
Damn nice of the WSJ to so magnanimously allow us to have what we should be entitled to anyway, and by the way, that doesn’t even come close to explaining what Net Neutrality is really all about.

Take a moment to pause over this expansive list of ‘entitlements.’ If we take the FCC at its word, access to online pornography is now a right…”
Oooh, the internet “boogeyman” rears its ugly head! Whenever someone wants to trash the Internet, they immediately bring up pornography, forgetting about the incredible wealth of other positive features of the World Wide Web. I should point out, of course, that I don’t care for some of the truly unpleasant stuff out there either, witnessed by the unbelievable quantity of porn spam that finds its way into my Yahoo Email account. But this is the price you pay, unfortunately.

Clearly, the law of unintended consequences looms large when special interests seek sweeping new Internet regulations.
I don’t know what that sentence means, and I don’t think the authors do either, but oooh, it has the “special interests” hobgoblin in it – re: Dems, liberals, unions, environmentalists, etc.

Creating new regulations is not the answer. With “Net Neutrality,” a new bureaucracy would be required to handle the endless litigation these rules would cause.
What rules? That sentence is utter nonsense.

That’s more taxpayer dollars to fund the expensive and unnecessary interference with the Internet. When the market and economic forces of competition are working successfully, why are we manufacturing a problem to fit this pseudo solution?
I see that these guys have been tutored well at the knee of Frank Luntz and other Repug propagandists.

As a service regulated by natural market forces, the Internet has the flexibility to adjust to fit the demands of American users. The market-forces system allows constant revisions to handle technology’s ever-changing nature. Even the best intentioned government regulations run the risk of unintended consequences and market failure.
“Market Failure”? Gee, that’s actually some new Repug boilerplate as far as I know…

And by the way, am I the only one who has noticed that, aside from the selective WSJ quoting above, attribution for anything is nowhere in sight here?

If research and development are not encouraged, the Internet stands to lose billions of dollars in investments. We need that funding to bolster our economy and stay ahead of foreign competition.
You mean “the phonies” need that funding for their unnecessary fees because they can’t - or won't - compete fairly in the marketplace.

A faltering Internet economy means higher prices for users and, more importantly, a stagnant innovation-free industry. In a world-wide race to maintain our leadership in technology, we simply can’t afford that risk.

Any company that e-mails you to ask for your support of “Net Neutrality” is concerned only with its own bottom line. These companies profited from the fair market system as start-up businesses, but now they’re large and want to saddle the end consumer with all the cost of increasing bandwidth. It isn’t fair to give them that power.
This is absolutely unconscionable, since, as I noted earlier, those who oppose Net Neutrality are trying to do this very thing.

We should not let special interests lock in their marketplace dominance and leave consumers holding the bag.

Allow the system to continue innovating and keep government and greedy manipulators away from the Internet.
If it weren’t for “government,” the Internet wouldn’t even exist!

Congress had it right years ago when our representatives decided to stay out of the industry. The system is working. Let’s keep it that way.
This is some expert-level disinformation being peddled here, and we need some real effort to counteract it.

So please go to savetheinternet.com and find out where your elected representatives stand on it; so far, I can’t find a single Dem that opposes it (I have a feeling Ben Nelson does, though – just a hunch), and as far as I know, every Repug does. That speaks volumes right there.

The simple fact of the matter is that, unless Net Neutrality is signed into law, this blog and probably thousands of others will eventually disappear. Don’t for a minute think that the Repugs don’t have that on their agenda. Just remember what happened to public affairs programming on TV after the media mergers in the 90s; funny, but most of it went away also somehow (Remember “CBS Reports,” and “Our World” on ABC?).

And that will happen again unless we act now.

No comments: