The subject today is Jeff Chester executive director of, “The Center for Digital Democracy,” and one of the many players trying to hold the White House and Congress responsible for their control over the Internet and how things work He has long been on the front lines fighting against the consolidation and commercialization of the U.S. media system. A former investigative reporter, fellow Cal alum, and filmmaker, he lives outside Washington, D.C. and he has this book you want to read, if you want to work in this business. It’s called “Digital Destiny”.
The topic is Net Neutrality (NN), and how it will affect access to the Internet; and who gets to decide what the public and business world ought to expect from leadership. Each week we try to focus on one of the angles to this story and hopefully provide the IT community with a baseline from which they can decide how their interests are represented. Opinions are like tastes, though here, we encourage you to argue over them.
Jeff Chester, CDD Founder and Executive Director
The continuity of democracy and access to bandwidth are inextricably linked forever. Never have the stakes been higher; never have there been more challenges. Having said that, there is little faith that Obama and his promises are even still being acknowledged. It is also clear, that his adversaries – the Republicans – have even the vaguest idea of what the problems are or are interested in protecting all the players. They all seem, frankly, only interested in preserving the status quo, which is sure to leave the future cloudy at best.
Here is a clip from the Bill Moyer’s show shot back in 2007 on this topic:
“With the explosive growth of the Internet and broadband communications, we now have the potential for a truly democratic media system offering a wide variety of independent sources of news, information, and culture, with control over content in the hands of the many rather than a few select media giants. But the country’s powerful communications companies have other plans. Assisted by a host of hired political operatives and pro-business policy makers, the big cable, TV, and Internet providers are using their political clout to gain ever greater control over the Internet and other digital communication channels. Instead of a “global information commons,” we’re facing an electronic media system designed principally to sell to rather than serve the public, dominated by commercial forces armed with aggressive digital marketing, interactive advertising, and personal data collection.”
Big media hasn’t changed its stripes and is unlikely to any time soon unless they are forced to and it doesn’t seem like anyone inside the beltway has the spine to stand up to anyone, no less these special interests which, thanks to the public trough, have all the money in the world to buy politicians, including the likes of Genachowski, Obama’s talking fool.
Having said that, here is a note from a post over on Huffington Post today:
“Four Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee penned a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday asking the FCC "to ensure the maintenance of an open Internet" by rejecting a recent deal by Google and Verizon that could lead to tiered pricing for internet service.
"The recent proposal by Google and Verizon of an industry-centered net neutrality policy framework reinforces the need for resolution of the current open proceedings at the commission to ensure the maintenance of an open Internet," wrote Reps. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Anna Eshoo of California, Jay Inslee of Washington and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania.
Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that could set the stage for internet service that’s "separate but equal," according to critics. While the plan prohibits internet service providers from discriminating in how they treat content traveling over wireline networks, Google and Verizon’s agreement would allow wireless carriers to throttle users’ internet traffic as long as they are transparent about it.
The representatives argued that any sort of paid prioritization of internet traffic is contrary to the "fundamental non-discrimination principles that have made the Internet the most successful communications and commercial medium in history."
"The public interest," the Democrats argued, "is served by a free and open Internet that continues to be an indispensable platform for innovation, investment, entrepreneurship, and free speech."
They called for a plan that would ensure an "efficient marketplace" where "businesses and consumers — not carriers — decide the winners and losers in the Internet ecosystem."
The representatives also showed support for a recently abandoned FCC proposal that sought to regulate broadband service. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year derailed the effort.”
Jeff Chester’s been working on public issues with the Internet and the workers involved to essentially,
- Developing the campaign for an open broadband Internet
- Helping educate the public about the plans of the phone and cable companies to operate a more tightly-controlled broadband system
- Leading efforts at the Federal Trade Commission to promote new policies governing online privacy and responsible interactive marketing practices
Here is a copy of the letter:
“The Honorable Julius Genachowski Chairman Federal Communications Commission 445 12th Street Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
The deployment of broadband service is a national imperative — as important to our nation’s economic success, growth and competitiveness as the postal roads, canals, rail lines, and interstate highways of the past.
Following the D.C. Circuit Court’s Comcast decision earlier this year, the Commission’s regulatory authority with respect to this vital engine of our economy was upended. Accordingly, the initiation in May of a proceeding on Commission authority was an appropriate and tailored response to the Court’s Comcast ruling. Reclassification and clear FCC oversight as contemplated by your "Third Way" proposal is critically important for bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans and achieving the goals set forth in the landmark National Broadband Plan, including advancement of consumer welfare, energy independence and efficiency, job creation and other national priorities.
The recent proposal by Google and Verizon of an industry-centered net neutrality policy framework reinforces the need for resolution of the current open proceedings at the Commission to ensure the maintenance of an open Internet. Rather than expansion upon a proposal by two large communications companies with a vested financial interest in the outcome, formal FCC action is needed. The public interest is served by a free and open Internet that continues to be an indispensable platform for innovation, investment, entrepreneurship, and free speech.
As the Commission’s broadband proceeding moves forward, we believe that the Commission should be guided by the following fundamental principles:
The FCC must have oversight authority for broadband access services.
The United States has fallen behind other nations in terms of broadband deployment and adoption because of the failure to properly plan for its development and support its use; however, the National Broadband Plan represents a monumental step towards increasing deployment and adoption and unleashing the power of high speed access to create jobs, improve health care delivery, upgrade public safety tools and expand educational opportunities. Without the proper authority to implement all facets of the Plan, we will not fulfill its full promise or achieve its goals. Classification of broadband access service under Title II, combined with the Commission’s forbearance authority, would provide the necessary certainty for broadband network operators, broadband users, and Internet innovators alike.
Paid prioritization would close the open Internet.
Paid prioritization is contrary to the fundamental non-discrimination principles that have made the Internet the most successful communications and commercial medium in history. Such arrangements would favor certain content providers to the detriment of other content creators, degrading the traffic of providers unable or unwilling to pay. These types of arrangements, whether they are called paid prioritization or fast lanes harm the Internet. A commonsense non-discrimination requirement without loopholes is essential for an efficient marketplace where businesses and consumers — not carriers — decide the winners and losers in the Internet ecosystem. We strongly encourage you to reject any policy proposals that would permit paid prioritization of delivery of Internet content.
Wired and wireless services should have a common regulatory framework and rules.
Exclusion of wireless services from open Internet requirements could widen the digital divide by establishing a substandard, less open experience for traditionally underserved regions and demographic groups that may more often need to access or choose to access the Internet on a mobile device. Moreover, such inconsistent principles could confuse consumers, who would have different and uneven experiences depending solely on the connection that their mobile devices might use to reach the Internet. An Internet framework excluding wireless from important consumer safeguards could impede attainment of national broadband goals, while lessening the potential for wireless platforms to serve unserved and underserved areas.
Broad "managed services" exceptions would swallow open Internet rules.
An overbroad definition of the proposed "managed services" category would sap the vitality and stunt the growth of the Internet. In fact, an overly broad interpretation of managed services would create an exception that swallows the rule. For example, managed services might be rebranded or repackaged services and applications — only with priority treatment not available to competitors. By undermining competition and the value of the open Internet, managed services could have significantly negative consequences for consumers and commercial enterprises.
In sum, we believe that any rules that result from the Commission’s proceedings should focus on adherence to the public interest, discourage attempts to strangle the free-flow of lawful content, applications and services for American consumers and provide certainty both for entrepreneurs and Internet users. The time for FCC action is now. We look forward to continuing to work with you and other members of the Commission to ensure that the Commission’s Open Internet proceeding moves forward to protect the public interest.
Thank you for your consideration.
Rep. Jay Inslee
Rep. Ed Markey
Rep. Anna Eshoo
Rep. Mike Doyle
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Jobs continue to go unfilled and companies continue to lose ground to overseas companies who have their government on the right side. The right side being, naturally, the free, open and unabridged Internet, something that may be going extinct here in the states. We are losing ground at every turn and it starts with the failure to educate our kids and the bias against entrepreneurs and small business which are the backbone of our economy. Those who are railing against immigrants may think this government understands how to solve it, but they’d be wrong. Unless business gets their voices heard, the next time you’re looking for a savvy, educated and hard-working Internet professional, you will have to search off shore. We are simply not producing them.
Let us know what you would like to see covered and what’s missing in this thread. There are more loose threads than in my Granny’s old quilt so bare with us and help us out if you can.