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FreePress on the Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

August 5, 2010 - by David Moore

Sign our petition to save the Internet! SaveTheInternet.comPlease take a moment to read this urgent essay by Josh Silver, President of Free Press, called The End of the Internet as We Know It. Excerpt ::

How did this happen? We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency’s authority. We have a president who promised to “take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality” yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill. (emphasis added)

Roundup of lots more info over at the ever-increasingly-valuable Memeorandum news & blog aggregator. Wow they do good work. But this is a harmful public policy outcome for our nation… a terribly-accurate example of what we mean when we write that Congress Is Broken.

If you woke up today and looked forward to getting online, if you enjoy using the web to keep in touch with friends and use it to conduct business, you should support net neutrality. (Why? FAQ!) To fight for internet freedom and keep the Internet the amazing powerful open-access technology it has usually been, head over to Save The Internet, sign the petition, spread the word, and get involved. As part of your activism, you can research campaign contributions to any senator or representative here on OpenCongress (with data courtesy of OpenSecrets) on their profile page’s tab for “The Money Trail”. Let us know what you find :: writeus [at] opencongress d0t org.

Shout-out to everyone at FreePress and Prof. Susan Crawford for their work defending internet freedom in the face of overwhelming corporate lobbying and telco campaign contributions. For more info on what we’re up against, please see Corruption Road: How Corporate Money and Astroturf Pollute Media Policy: Corporations pour campaign cash into Congress, where prominent members sign industry letters and parrot industry talking points. Links to more valuable industry studies and public-interest journalism to be found on their site… please don’t forget to spread the word and motivate your social networks to support #netneutrality today in the face of this terrible move by the Google-Verizon behemoth.

What’s more, this is why we (PPF) continually urge you to support public-interest work by non-profit organizations with a strong public mission. A usually-perceived-as-progressive-but-ultimately-and-essentially-profit-seeking massive-clout-wielding entity like Google can spout a slogan such as “Don’t Be Evil” — and then turn around and cut a deal with net-neutrality opponent Verizon because it’s overwhelmingly in their proprietary, closed, commercial interest (NYT). The best available bulwark against the false idols of “enlightened” companies is an independent (i.e., non-captured) regulatory government and a truly level technical playing field (i.e., net neutrality) for private enterprise and the social good of real-world communities. Lots more over at TechMeme. To the team at Google, we look forward to any attempt you care to mount defending this deal, sharing a stage with the Free Press policy folks and Prof. Crawford and others in the net freedom community. Josh Silver put it well in his HuffPo piece:

Author’s note: Notice how a company can change their tune in the name of profitmaking. From Google in 2006: “Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.” 

… how terribly discouraging. Time to organize against Google-Verizon and in favor of net neutrality.

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