For weeks, I've been trying to write about why Network Neutrality is so important, and why everyone who spends even three minutes a day online should be writing, calling, and faxing their representatives in Congress relentlessly until the so-called First Amendment of the Internet is guaranteed and becomes law. But whenever I start, I end up angry and depressed and frustrated, and the words just won't come.
As the New York Times editorialized today:
"Net neutrality" is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. ... One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
If Net Neutrality is gutted, Google, eBay, and YouTube either pay protection money to companies like AT&T or risk that their sites process slowly on your computer. Comcast could intentionally slow access to iTunes, steering Internet customers its own music service. And the little guy with the next big idea would be muscled out of the marketplace, relegated to the "slow lane" of the information superhighway.
That's why an Internet revolt has begun--a revolt that [Telecom spokesman Mike] McCurry belittles. Folks as diverse as Craig from Craigslist, MoveOn, Gun Owners of America, Google, eBay, and Amazon are all fighting back. 350,000 people signed a petition demanding Congress preserve Internet freedom, over 2,000 blogs have rallied the public, and even some celebrities are chiming in.
Craig Fields from Gun Owners of America hit the target right-on when he said
"Whenever you see people on the far left and far right joining together about something Congress is getting ready to do, it's been my experience that what Congress is getting ready to do is basically un-American."
There's much more to his post, including a smackdown of Mike McCurry, who has become and outright lying shill for powerful telecom interests like AT&T who want to force a fundamental change to the way the Internet operates. Please read it. I think it's the most important thing you'll read today, and should help everyone who's heard about this issue (but doesn't know exactly what it is -- which includes a lot of people, including myself until about last week) understand why it's so important.
On a personal note: without the Internet, I'd be just another failed actor struggling to make ends meet. Because I had the same ability to put together a website and reach an audience as anyone else, I was able to put my words on your screens, and eventually into a book that got into many of your hands. If AT&T or some other big telecom decided that regular guys like me had to pay some sort of protection money to have the same ability to reach you as Google or MSN does, I never would have been able to get WWdN off the ground, much less found Monolith Press, publish Dancing Barefoot, and start an entirely new career as a writer.
We've all taken for granted that we'll have equal access to the Internet, both as consumers and as creators of content. Right now, very powerful, very greedy, and very un-democratic businesses are trying very hard to take that away from us. They must be stopped.
Again, Adam Green:
The only way to protect Net Neutrality is for Congress to take action now, as it re-writes our nation's telecom laws. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced legislation to do this. Mike McCurry and his clients like AT&T are fighting it tooth and nail.
If you are outraged, don't just sit there . . . take these steps:
1. SIGN a Net Neutrality petition to Congress:
2. CALL Congress now:
3. BLOG about this issue, or put our "Save the Internet" logo on your Web site:
4. MYSPACE: Add "Save the Internet" as a friend:
5. WRITE A LETTER to Congress: