I struggled with how to define Net Neutrality for you, but then I discovered that I had blogged about it before. I love being my own source! That post (re)directed me to Save the Internet, who over the past four years has further condensed the definition to the following:
Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
… With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
What does that mean for you?
Imagine if your internet provider could meter and limit your internet usage for different things, just like a cell phone plan or your cable TV subscription. Any of these statements could become true..
“Like to shop online? Shopping sites are just $5 extra a month!”
“Get your news from Fox – Fox sites load 10x faster than CNN on our network!”
“Are you an online gamer? Game for free overnight, 1am-8am. Standard hourly rates apply to peak time gaming.”
“Do you need to upload music for your band? Sorry, you’ll need our Business Plan to upload MP3s.”
Basically, ISPs would gain the right to selectively charge, tax, or even restrict your internet usage based on their own internal policies for or against certain sites, activities, or services. Wikipedia can tell you more about the reality of this threat to our internet freedoms.
I appreciate that the internet has been created as a level playing field for information, whether you’re a newshound or a gamer, a liberal or a conservative. It is terrifying to me to think that my blogging or music could be stymied because I can’t find an affordable carrier for it.
Which brings us back to the 74 Democrats, including my representative, Bob Brady.
Understandably, they are looking at the internet from a business and regulation perspective. In Brady’s case, Comcast is one of his biggest constituents. The reps hear companies and lobbyists saying, “We’re providing a utility, so let us regulate it!”
The internet should not become that kind of utility. As soon as you make the internet equivalent to cable TV or electricity, you start pricing people out of the amazing era of democratized production we’re currently a part of.
Yes, maybe businesses need to meter bandwidth, but should they really have power over the sites we access and the services we use? Once that door is opened it can never again be closed.
That is why I called my representative, Bob Brady, to tell him I do support Net Neutrality, and I do not support his signing Rep. Gene Green’s (D – TX) letter to the FCC arguing against neutrality. I told him I would campaign actively against him if he continued his stance.
Mr. Brady, consider this a shot fired across your bow.
You can read the full Rep. Green letter at Balloon Juice. It’s a small step, but if left unchallenged it leaves the door open for further action or legislation against Net Neutrality.
Below I have reproduced the letter and its list of signatories. If you see your representative on the list, please give their office a ring and comment – Philly residents, you need to call either Bob Brady (215) 389-4627 or Chaka Fattah (215) 387-6404. If you’re not sure what to say, I’ve included a sample script from Save the Internet.
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
We are writing to reinforce the strong bipartisan consensus among policymakers, industry participants, and analysts that the success of the broadband marketplace stems from policies that encourage competition, private investment, and legal certainty. The regulatory framework first adopted in 1998 by the Clinton Administration’s FCC has resulted in broadband industry infrastructure investment of approximately $60 billion per year. In the last decade, multiple providers and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ have brought high speed connections to 95 percent of U.S. households where two-thirds of Americans now access the Internet through broadband at home.
Still, much work remains to be done. According to the National Broadband Plan, 14 million Americans lack broadband access altogether, many underserved areas need more robust broadband facilities, and both wired and wireless broadband services require increasing speeds. As the Plan notes, that work will require as much as $350 billion in additional private investment. Generating those enormous sums from industry, and the good-paying jobs they produce, will require a continued commitment to the stable regulatory environment that has existed for the last dozen years.
Because of this, we have serious concerns about the proposed new regulatory framework for broadband and the Internet. The expanded FCC jurisdiction over broadband that has been proposed and the manner in which it would be implemented are unprecedented and create regulatory uncertainty. The controversy surrounding that approach will likely serve as a distraction from what should be our Nation’s foremost communications priority: bringing broadband to every corner of America, getting every American online, and providing the high speed connections needed to realize the promises of telemedicine, distance learning, and other forms of consumer empowerment.
The continued deployment and adoption of broadband, the growing importance of the Internet to our constituents, and the significant contributions this will make to our economy should be the FCC’s primary focus right now. The uncertainty this proposal creates will jeopardize jobs and deter needed investment for years to come. The significant regulatory impact of reclassifying broadband service is not something that should be taken lightly and should not be done without additional direction from Congress. We urge you not to move forward with a proposal that undermines critically important investment in broadband and the jobs that come with it.
Thank you for your attention to this letter, and we look forward to working with you in a constructive way to address these matters.
Rep. Gene Green
Rep. John Adler
Rep. Jason Altmire
Rep. Michael Arcuri
Rep. Joe Baca
Rep. John Barrow
Rep. Tim Bishop
Rep. Sanford Bishop
Rep. Dan Boren
Rep. Leonard Boswell
Rep. Allen Boyd
Rep. Robert Brady
Rep. Bobby Bright
Rep. Corrine Brown
Rep. G.K. Butterfield
Rep. Dennis Cardoza
Rep. Russ Carnahan
Rep. Christopher Carney
Rep. Travis Childers
Rep. Yvette Clarke
Rep. William Lacy Clay
Rep. Jim Costa
Rep. Joe Crowley
Rep. Henry Cuellar
Rep. Elijah Cummings
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper
Rep. Lincoln Davis
Rep. Steve Driehaus
Rep. Chaka Fattah
Rep. Marcia Fudge
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Rep. Charles Gonzalez
Rep. Al Green
Rep. Debbie Halvorson
Rep. Alcee Hastings
Rep. Baron Hill
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa
Rep. Tim Holden
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
Rep. Suzanne Kosmas
Rep. Frank Kratovil
Rep. Rick Larsen
Rep. Dan Maffei
Rep. Michael McMahon
Rep. Gregory Meeks
Rep. Charlie Melancon
Rep. Walt Minnick
Rep. Dennis Moore
Rep. Scott Murphy
Rep. Glenn Nye
Rep. Solomon Ortiz
Rep. Bill Owens
Rep. Ed Pastor
Sample text for your call from Save the Internet. Philly residents, you need to call either Bob Brady (215) 389-4627 or Chaka Fattah (215) 387-6404. Even if your rep is not on the list, you can still call to urge them to sign Rep. Jay Inslee’s letter, mentioned below.
Hi — this is [YOUR NAME] and I’m calling from [TOWN].
I am outraged that Rep. [YOUR REP] signed Rep. Gene Green’s letter to the FCC, opposing Net Neutrality and Internet freedom. That letter was spearheaded by big phone and cable companies who want to put tollbooths on the Internet, and ruin the free and open Internet as we know it.
I am calling to ask Rep. [YOUR REP] to withdraw his signature from Rep. Green’s letter immediately — and to instead sign Rep. Jay Inslee’s new letter supporting Net Neutrality.
Will Rep. Brady sign Rep. Inslee’s letter instead? [If they are interested, they can contact Megan Eidman in Rep. Inslee’s office.]