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Thread: Congress to sell control of the internet to multinationals; free flow of info dead

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Exclamation Congress to sell control of the internet to multinationals; free flow of info dead

    By Art Brodsky | bio - TPMcafe.com

    Congress is going to hand the operation of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Democrats are helping. It's a shame.

    Donít 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 whatís left of the telecommunications industry. It will be one of those stories the MSM writes about as ďlittle noticedĒ because they havenít covered it.

    On the surface, it may seem a stretch to think that those companies could control the great, wide, infinite Internet. After all, the incredible diversity of the Net allowed everything -- Web sites and services of all kinds to exist in perfect harmony. Whatís more, they were all delivered to your screen without any interference by the companies that carried the bits to and fro. Until recently, they had to. It was the law. The telephone companies, which carried all of the Web traffic until relatively recently, had to treat all of their calls alike without giving any Web site or service favored treatment over another.

    The result was todayís Internet, which developed as a result of billions of dollars of investments, from the largest Internet company that spent millions on software and networking, to the one person with a blog who spent a few hundred dollars on a laptop. The Internet grew into a universal public resource because the telephone and cable companies simply transported the bits.

    Last fall, however, the Federal Communications Commission, backed by the U.S. Supreme Court, decided that the high-speed Internet services offered by the cable and telephone companies didnít fall under that law, the Communications Act. Out the window went the law that treated everyone equally. Now, with broadband, we are in a new game without rules.

    Telephone and cable companies own 98% of the high-speed broadband networks the public uses to go online for reading news, shopping, listening to music, posting videos or any of the thousands of other uses developed for the Internet. But that isnít enough. They want to control what you read, see or hear online. The companies say that they will create premium lanes on the Internet for higher fees, and give preferential access to their own services and those who can afford extra charges. The rest of us will be left to use an inferior version of the Internet.

    Admittedly, it hasnít become a problem yet. But to think it wonít become one is to ignore 100 years of history of anti-competitive behavior by the phone companies. And it was a mere six weeks or so from the time the FCC issued its ill-fated decision to the time when Ed Whitacre, the CEO of (then-SBC) now AT&T issued his famous manifesto attacking Google and other Web sites for ďusing my pipes (for) free.Ē They donít, by the way.

    Hereís the inside baseball: A couple of weeks ago, a courageous band of legislators tried to stop the madness in Subcommittee. Ed Markey, Rick Boucher, Anna Eshoo and Jay Inslee proposed some good language to protect the Internet. For their troubles, they just got four more votes, other than theirs. Just three Democrats, other than the sponsors, voted for it. Only one Republican voted for it. When we talk about special interest giveaways, this one will be at the top of the list. And we wonít have only Republicans to blame.
    AT&T doesn't care about charging higher rates to you or your ISP, what they want is to charge higher rates to eBay. Or Amazon. Or Google. Or Yahoo. Or baybe TPM. If the people providing content don't pay AT&T extra, their packets answering web-site requests just might happen to get dropped on the floor. Business is business, y'know. And if Amazon signs on as AT&T's official book/music/everything store, well, then, that's just too bad for competitors who want their sites to deliver the same level of responsiveness.

    The commercial antitrust implications of this kind of discrimination are enough to make it violently against the public interest. But consider what happens on the political side when, say, only the best-funded sources of news and opinion can be sure their messages will be reliably available to people who want them. Once the infrastructure for discrimination is in place, setting up the Fox News version of the internet would be easy to do, hard to detect and prove.

    The internet, such as we know it, will be nothing more than a carbon copy of television media and news conglomerates. Those with the cash will get their message out there. Those who can't pay won't.

    Frightening.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    SVZ
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    Default Re: Congress to sell control of the internet to multinationals; free flow of info dead

    Good luck trying to secure it...

    Which is why they're developing Internet 2, a secured network (that provides superfast speeds) only available to governments and certain universities right now.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Congress to sell control of the internet to multinationals; free flow of info dead

    Yeah.. woo, information elitism.

    Why can't we go one day without stratifying what people can learn based on their income?

    It's so 19th century.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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