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Legislation Designed to Help Stifle Open Internet

Washington Post: Internet Firms Want FCC to Enforce Net Neutrality. Internet companies yesterday criticized legislation that would give the Federal Communications Commission only limited ability to stop phone and cable companies from blocking access to Web sites, saying the proposal would endanger the open nature of the Web.

The bill, championed by House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), would allow the FCC to decide disputes about Web access only case by case and would bar the agency from writing detailed rules on the subject. Open-Internet advocates said the bill would make the FCC toothless in the area of net neutrality, which is the concept that companies controlling Internet access should not use that power to block or slow particular Web services.

This may only seem like a battle between corporate behemoths. But it affects everyone.

If the cable and phone companies are allowed to decide what goes up and down “their” data pipes — built atop government-sanctioned monopoly businesses — and in what order, they will use their power to favor certain content and services, and thereby disfavor others. The rise of citizen media has everything to do with network neutrality, and its loss will ultimately discourage a lot of the creativity we’re seeing in this arena.

This is your fight, too.

1 Comment on “Legislation Designed to Help Stifle Open Internet”

  1. #1 Some Thoughts on the New Net Neutrality Bill | Citizen Media Law Project
    on Feb 14th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    […] pricing and content discrimination could stifle important avenues of creativity. As Dan Gillmor wrote nearly two years ago: If the cable and phone companies are allowed to decide what goes up and […]