Sunday, September 19, 2010

Google And Verizon Threaten Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is critical to everyone who uses the Internet and wants to preserve the free exchange of ideas–and equal access to them. Google and Verizon want the right to demand that content providers pay for fast, smooth access to their web sites. While major corporations will be able do so, smaller companies, non-profits or individuals who can't afford to will be left in the slow lanes. It's bad enough that the Supreme Court has rejected corporate campaign spending limits. The loss of net neutrality is one more step in the weakening of democracy in favor of those who have the cash to drown out other voices. In an editorial, "For Digital Democracy," The Nation warns against this threat:

Google and Verizon want the FCC and Congress to allow media giants to transform wireless communications into a digital version of a bad cable TV package. Instead of a free and open Internet that will take Americans where they want to go—thanks to the longstanding neutrality principle, which guarantees equal access to all websites and applications—the Google-Verizon deal would permit Internet service providers to speed up access to some content while leaving the rest behind. Such "pay for priority" would allow big business to buy speed, quality and other advantages—which would not be merely commercial. Now that the Supreme Court has afforded corporations electioneering rights equal to those of citizens, decisions about how we communicate have a profound political component to them.

Imagine if BP could pay to have its messaging dominate digital discussion about the best policies for regulating offshore drilling and carbon emissions—to such an extent that searches for information about "clean energy" would steer straight to corporate spin... With Google in the game, the threat expands exponentially. If its deal with Verizon is allowed, the coalition of consumer, civil rights and advocacy groups argues, "it would divide the information superhighway, creating new private fast lanes for the big players while leaving the little guy stranded on a winding dirt road"...

...That scenario could strangle the Internet's civic and democratic promise while supercharging corporate dominance of the digital discourse about our nation's future. But it doesn't have to happen. The most wired members of Congress, led by Democrats like Edward Markey and Anna Eshoo, have urged the FCC to reassert its authority—by altering flawed Bush-era classifications that narrowed regulator options—and define broadband as a telecommunications service.

No comments: