Monday, April 24, 2006

Fighting for freedom on all of the Internets

Updated twice below
Bloggers across the internets are abuzz with reports that Congress is on the verge of handing over control of this formerly free and open worldwide experiment to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

Writes Art Brodsky at TPM Cafe:
Don’t look now, but the House Commerce Committee next Wednesday is likely to vote to turn control of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and what’s left of the telecommunications industry. It will be one of those stories the MSM writes about as “little noticed” because they haven’t covered it.

Matt Stoller at MyDD has a comprehensive rundown of what's going on, why its a threat to the freedom of the internets, who the players are, and how to stop them.

Prof. Froomkin at Discourse.net agrees that the problems with the legislation are real, but disagrees with the strategery.

Update:

Steve Gilliard explains the problem more clearly than I could in an excellent post on the practical implications:
[T]hey're talking about bills and lobbying, and it all may make your eyes glaze over.

But it's really simple.

Remember the old AOL? How you were restricted to what they offered, and couldn't reach the internet. And when you could, you were stuck with their browser?

Do you want that back?


Second update (4/26/06):
The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted on the amendment to "save the Internet," and it was defeated 22-34. Matt Stoller has the post-mortem, concluding that the loss is not so bad, considering that 4 votes switched, and the Subcommittee vote defeated the amendment 23-8. I hope his optimism is well founded:
There's a white hot firestorm on the issue on Capitol Hill. No one wants to see the telcos make a radical change to the internet and screw this medium up, except, well, the telcos. And now members of Congress are listening to us. The telcos have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and many years lobbying for their position; we launched four days ago, and have closed a lot of ground. Over the next few months, as the public wakes up, we'll close the rest of it.

I watched the markup and the voting, and there was noticeable defensiveness among Congressmen on the wrong side of this. They are wrong, they know it, and they are ashamed. Now they know people are watching. So we didn't win this vote, but this close margin was nonetheless a smack to the jaw of the insiders, and a clear victory for the people. Now the battle moves out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and onto more favorable terrain.

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