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SAVE THE INTERNET

WELCOME TO URBANICITY
SENSING URBANITY
LISTENING FOR WORDS
VIEWING IMAGES OF MYSTERY
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MAKING A DIFFERENCE

It begins with Net Neutrality

It's far from a sure thing that the internet will remain open and free. Know the facts and issues. Writers of the Communications Act of 1934 could not have imagined the age of the internet. Reform is now on the table.
 
Our internet freedom is protected by the fundamental principle called "net neutrality," which allows the public to access any web site or application of their choice without discrimination. This has been the guiding principle of the internet since its inception-- but is now under seige. With more media merging into behemoths, "our internet" is seen as a ripe monetary plum ready to be plucked.
 
We now get our TV, phone, radio, and the web from the same high-speed internet connections. The potential economic, public safety and educational benefits of the internet are almost limitless. Wiring our nation with a high-speed internet connection is now a public necessity,  like water, gas, or electricity. Those utilities are "neutral," in that different customers don't get different kinds of water, gas or electricity.
 
But the powerful cable-telecom industry is at odds with the public's interests. To safeguard profit they want control of the content you get and how you get it.  They want to decide which web destinations go fast or slow. While the big corporate sites, especially the ones owned by media giants, get a spot in the fast line on the information super-highway, everyone else-- small businesses, independent publications, community groups et.al.-- will be stuck on the slow road to irrelevance.
 
These conglomerates, with armies of lawyers, spend big money to spread misinformation about their plans for the internet. They say there's no evidence that they're going to interfere and that they can be trusted to do the right thing. But they have a lousy track record-- and their words belie their actions. Media giants have shown no qualms about abusing power while meddling with the public airways and free speech.
 
Just one example: Comcast blocks innovation:  
 
In October, 2007, the cable giant Comcast was crippling a popular way of sharing large files called "BitTorrent," which allows people to quickly download large files such as videos, movies, and music, without using a lot of bandwidth.
 
 BitTorrent is perfectly legal. Hollywood studios and music companies use it to distribute high quality films, TV shows, and music. Even NASA has started using it to send high-resolution photos from outer space. BitTorrent also provides Internet users with an online version of video-on-demand, allowing them to eadily download content of their choosing. It is an ideal application for independent artists and individuals seeking an inexpensive distribution system. But Comcast claims that BitTorrent users are hogging the network. They don't just cut off high-volume users-- they block everybody. AP reporters weren't even able to share a copy of the Bible.
 
Cable and phone companies have repeatedly been caught blocking, filtering, polling, and spying on consumers’ internet activities. Left unfetterred they will keep rolling back our freedoms whenever we go online.We need to ask ourselves: What good is free speech if a handful of network giants-- like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, restrict access to information. These companies are lobbying furiously to kill  the network neutrality that prevents them from discriminating against web sites or services based on their source, ownership or destination.
 
Open access begins with net neutrality, which guarantees a level playing field and gives the little guy the same chance as Google to come up with the next big thing.
 
Keep in mind that it wasn’t Comcast or AT&T that invented YouTube, blogs, eBay or almost anything else that makes the internet so great. Unless you’re a phone or cable company executive, it’s hard to imagine anyone who opposes universal, affordable access to an open internet for everyone.
 
Millions have contacted Congress and the FCC about the once-obscure idea of net neutrality. Can you think of another issue that has so strongly united diverse organizations like MoveOn, the Christian Coalition, PETA , the Gun Owners of America, Amazon.com and the American Library Association?
 
Putting an open internet on the national agenda this election year and into 2009 will require an unusual combination of dedicated politicians, high-tech companies that see beyond their own narrow interests, and innovative grassroots organizing online and off. And we can count on the phone and cable giants — with their bulging campaign coffers — to put up a fight.
 
The internet offers a critical opportunity to build a more equitable media system. For it may be the greatest leveling influence in the history of our culture. It provides all Americans with the potential to speak for themselves without having to convince large media conglomerates that their voices are worthy of being heard.
 
It's vital that we overcome the digital divide and let all Americans speak with their own voices, with unfettered access to a equitable media system.
 
Congress acts:
 
The work has begun.Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts got the ball rolling by intruducing "The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008," (HR5353). The bill is now in the senate-- sponsored by Senators Snowe, Dorgan, Inouye, Wyden, Leahy, Boxer, Obama, and Clinton (SB 2917).
 
The legislation would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality and protect the internet from gatekeepers. with the " The public-- not the phone and cable companies-- would control the fate of the internet. It would make it policy for the US government to actively protect the free-flowing internet from gatekeepers, establish principles for consumer protections that “guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism. " But it is far from a done deal. Media lobbyists know all the maneuvers on Capitol Hill.
 
Tell your senator to vote for S.B.2917.-- and help insure that in the future access to the internet will not be a restricted luxury for the few but rather a right for every American.
 
Support The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008!

Remain curious.