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Net Neutrality: Down But Not Out

June 12th, 2006

You may have heard that a few days ago, a provision for Network Neutrality was voted down in the House 269-152. While a few Republicans voted for neutrality and several dozen Democrats voted against it, the vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans against and Democrats for. Lobbyists won the day, bribing away like madmen; in an expensive election year, bribery is all too welcome in Congress.

While this loss is discouraging, it is not the end of the battle. It only means that the House will not positively vote for Net Neutrality; it does not yet mean that the House and the Senate will decisively vote against it when (and if) the telecom bill gets through Congress.

One more point to add to prior observations: the telecoms are trying to say that the big Internet media companies want to use these fast lanes for free to deliver content to you online. Aside from the untruth I noted before that these companies already pay high fees to the telecoms and get nothing for free, there is another fallacy: the metaphor of the goods being “delivered” to you, as if it’s the Microsofts and Googles which are the ones traversing the information superhighway. The fact is, no one is “on” these highways or “in” these pipes. However, if anyone is using these pathways, it is you. The content providers simply make things available at their end. You are the one who chooses to initiate the contact and receive the content. Much more than the content companies, you are the one who is doing the traversing. Which means that you’re the same greedy bastard that the telecoms are attacking for using their “pipes” for “free.” Are you? Do you get a free Internet connection? Or are the telecoms lying?

What it comes down to is whether you get to choose what comes across the Internet to you at high speed. If the telecoms get their way, you get no choice–they get to choose, and they get to charge money for it, money which you eventually have to pay, whether it is directly to them, or to them through the content providers. If Net Neutrality wins, then you get to decide what goes fast on the Internet, simply by requesting it. And it won’t cost a penny more in the end.

The fight’s not over. It’s not too late. Do something.

  1. June 13th, 2006 at 10:38 | #1

    Wow, that’s a really informative site! The FAQ’s taught me a lot about this issue, but it was really disappointing to try to join the campaign and the response was:

    “We’re sorry but it appears that you are not eligible to participate in this campaign. This campaign is designated for constituents of the targeted decisionmaker(s) and based upon your address, it appears that you do not live in an area represented by the targeted decisionmaker(s).”

    ….of course I put in my real address, my American Forces Pacific postal box as I live here in Japan. So even though I’m a registered American voter via absentee ballot (and obviously an American citizen married to someone serving the U.S.) we’re not target constituents.

    Of course I’ll give it another shot and re-route my petition signature via my family member’s address, but it’s a shame they’re leaving out this huge demographic of folks who vote absentee without fail and who live on American soil when on a Navy base.

  2. Brad
    June 13th, 2006 at 15:08 | #2

    Lobbyists won the day, bribing away like madmen; in an expensive election year, bribery is all too welcome in Congress.

    Knowing almost nothing about (American) politics, that’s something I’ve still never understood. Why is the term ‘lobbyist’ even *allowed*? Is payment to congressmen legal? How controlled/legalised is all this lobbying?

    I’ve worked in local and state government, and the rules there are strict about not accepting gifts, etc, which may lead to a conflict of intrest. Are there such rules in Washington? Or is it all sidestepped via loopholes?

    Shocking, that it’s allowed to happen. Such a pity that self-interest is the number #1 priority for most.

  3. Luis
    June 14th, 2006 at 14:48 | #3

    There are all kinds of “reforms” and laws “against” bribery, but they seem to be designed to allow bribery in some form or another. Essentially, as I understand it, the laws say that politicians can receive money from interested parties, and can vote the way these parties ask, and the only way one can get nailed is if (a) one takes money in a way outside normal channels, (b) one uses the money in ways not approved of, or (c) it can be proved that, in the politician’s mind, the money is what swayed the vote. In other words, a politician can be for issue A one day, receive a “contribution” or a luxury junket the next day, then be against issue A the third day–and can get away with it as long as the politician is able to say, “the money had nothing to do with my vote switch.”

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