Wordy Wednesday – No Cute Puppies Today; Pam’s Mad as Hell

Yesterday, the FCC ruled against net neutrality. What is net neutrality? The idea that the internet belongs to the public and should be available to anyone without preference to certain ideas or to users with more money.

What does this mean to you? Here’s an example: corporations with lots of money will be able to “fast track” their information so it travels across the network faster. That’s great if you’re dying to order something from Amazon. But it means that your grassroots campaign to protect shelter animals will be traveling on the slow road.

Corporations will also be able to block content from “their” networks. The example commonly given is that Comcast won’t allows clients using it as their Internet Service Provider to stream Netflix movies. Why? Because Comcast has a competing company that wants to stream your internet movies instead.

Don’t care about that? Fox News Corporation owns the National Geographic Channel. And Hulu (with GE). And My Space. Under the new regulations, Fox News Corporation could censor content that puts one of their properties (say, Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer) in a bad light.

The internet was developed by researchers using government grants. Taxpayers, not corporations, funded its founding and development. Unfortunately, it is no longer seen as a public property.

In the early days of television, the FCC protected it as vital to the national interest. Although TV programming was funded by corporations, television broadcasters were required to give a certain amount of time to public interest programming (for children, public access, the emergency broadcast system, political debates). In addition, they were (until the days of Bill Clinton) not allowed allowed to form monopolies. A company could not own more than a certain number of television and radio stations in one market. That way, diverse voices could broadcast in each area.

I feel let down. Corporate money continues to erode the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution (and friends in Europe, Canada, and Australia–it’s happening in your homes too).

It’s too late to win back net neutrality. That battle is now lost. Here’s what you can do:

I’m sorry that while I’ve been actively working to ensure net neutrality in other places, I never blogged about it here. Because whether you’re liberal or conservative, American, or European, a cat person or a dog person, this is a free speech issue that affects us all.

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  1. I feared this was coming. I read about it on many other blogs and thought it was crazy. How could such a thing pass? Nobody can “own” the internet. Clearly, I was wrong and should have taken it all a lot more seriously.

    You are right. It does affect us all, no matter where we live. Now not only are coporations taking over our political elections, they are taking over one of the few places we all have left, where we are all allowed to speak our minds equally. The first thing to do is get the word out. Because I don’t know if enough people realise the impact this will have on them in the future. I don’t know if enough people even know about the decision at all.

    Thank you for talking about this.

    • You’re right that most people who will be affected by this don’t even know it’s been an issue at all.

      There may still be something that can be done in other countries. Sometimes Canada and the EU countries have regulations that are a bit tougher on corporations than those in the U.S. I’d take a look at how Canada’s regulators are dealing with this issue. It might not be too late in some places.

  2. Good grief! How on earth was this allowed?

    • An awful lot of money was spent by corporate lobbyists on this issue. And most people didn’t know about the issue or didn’t think it would make a difference to them.

      I don’t think we’ll have to wait long to see changes. There’s a lot of money riding on the ability to send some information faster over the internet than other information.