First Amendment issue of our Time; Google & Verizon deal putting Net Neutrality & my industry on the chopping block. Franken, Ellison, Klobuchar: What's going on?

Currently the Internets, at the lowest level, is a freeway. That is, when I want to get traffic from site A B or C, there is no corporate toll structure slowing my traffic down. But obviously, the owners of the telecom pipes, and increasingly the bigger, more monopolistic and oligopoly-friendly players, want to slow down traffic against their competitors and independent players.

After news emerged this week that Google and Verizon are planning to cut a deal to privilege tiers of corporate-related Internet traffic at the expense of everyone else, (Google denies it in a suspiciously surly fashion) a wave of concern ricocheted around Internets that the end of Net Neutrality might have finally arrived.

I heartily agree with FreePress.net's urgency on the matter, and sent a Freepress petition with my own remarks into my elected officials. So far a Sen. Franken emailbot sent me a receipt, but nothing at all from Sen. Klobuchar. Rep. Ellison's office sent a quick receipt and now a reasonable enough response.

Another dimension of this battle involves the venue of regulation: the FCC could theoretically implement a "good" rule through its administrative process, and/or through Congress. Apparently FreePress trusts the FCC more than Congress right now, and it's certainly true that the telecom industry pretty much has effective control of Congress. Thus, HR 3458, as advocated by Rep. Ellison, is a risky strategy. Rep. Alan Grayson, darling of progressives and fiscal hawks for his challenges to the Federal Reserve, has let em down by backing away from the FCC approach (as well as expressing the usual AIPAC-friendly foreign policy stance).

Franken, saying it's the First Amendment issue of our time, has gone well out of his way to raise attention about Net Neutrality, most recently at the Netroots conference on July 24th. I got a basic answer from Ellison which seems reasonable enough for now.

With that in mind I sent this in via the FreePress.net wizardry, and I encourage you to send one too. This issue cuts across all political orientations, leaving only the Oblivious, Astroturfoids and Fans of Corporate Authoritarians against it. We all deserve to be bored by DailyKos and RedState content alike, at the same speed.

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I am terrified that large corporate lobbies and the establishment in general are systematically trying to destroy the free Internet, and shut down and impede as many non-corporate sources of information as possible. Also, the recent deletion of 70,000+ blogs because of an apparently fake Al Qaeda magazine, due to some strange process by fiat of the Department of Homeland Security, is deeply troubling and lacks any due process. (Do you really think Al Qaeda suggests its supporters contact them over GMail, as the magazine states? How dumb is that?!)

The recent work by pro-lockdown legislators to narrow a needed proposed shield law, to exclude websites like Wikileaks, is also appalling and totally at odds with all the principles that have made our country economically viable, as well as a genuine marketplace of ideas. Responsibility for violating overgrown and corrupt secrecy rules falls not with websites, but with whoever violates their oath not to propagate sensitive information. I am disgusted that newspaper lobbyists are working to suppress protection for excellent websites like Cryptome.org that actually shed sunlight on the staggeringly vast wastes of Top Secret America.

The effort to destroy Net Neutrality and replace Internet service priority rules with cartel structures and deals will surely damage the US economy deeply, and give corporate fatcats the upper hand yet again to squelch the new avenues of information rapidly making them obsolete. This week it was reported Verizon and Google are nearing a deal to destroy Net Neutrality on Google-powered Verizon devices, and this kind of arrangement is fundamentally no different than Rockefeller, Carnegie, Standard Oil and other inefficient monopolist systems of previous eras. We will never get out of this deep economic collapse if legislation protecting fatcats is the only work product from Washington DC.

I work as a Web developer, developing sites for many people. The agenda against Net Neutrality is most directly an agenda against my clients, who deserve to make their sites available on equitable network standards. This is nothing more than cartels versus independent producers. How can my industry remain viable, let alone vibrant, if Net Neutrality gets destroyed by politicians and corporate lobbyists?

I agree with everything added below by FreePress.net:
Net Neutrality is the cornerstone of innovation, free speech and democracy on the Internet.

More than 1.9 million Americans have expressed support for Net Neutrality at Congress and the FCC. They want control over the Internet to remain in the hands of the people who use it every day.

Please stand with the public by protecting Net Neutrality once and for all.

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Rep. Ellison's response:

August 6, 2010

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 and net neutrality. I am honored to hear from you and proud to represent you in the United States Congress.

The Internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives. We utilize it daily for communications, commerce, business, education and research. I believe we must ensure that Internet access is universal and open to all lawful content and information. I share your sentiments regarding Internet freedom and further, I consider freedom to access the Internet on par with American rights to free press.

As you may know, there is increasing concern that the owners of the local broadband connections may block or discriminate against certain Internet users or applications in order to give an advantage to their own services. While owners of local networks have a legitimate right to manage traffic on their network to prevent congestion and viruses, they should not be able to block or degrade traffic based on the identity of the user or the type of application solely to favor their own interests. Like you, I am concerned that the ability of network providers to prioritize Internet traffic may give them too much power over the operation of, and access to, the Internet.

Currently, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (H.R. 3458) is under consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. While I do not serve on this Committee, please know that I will be certain to keep your views in mind as H.R. 3458 moves through the legislative process, and ultimately to the House floor for a vote.

As always, please feel free to contact me on this or any issue of concern. Sign up for our e-newsletter by visiting www.ellison.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Keith Ellison
United States House of Representatives

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