Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Net Neutrality - Why Should You Care?

Last Sunday, House Speaker Boehner spoke to the National Religious Broadcasters convention. His remarks include a disturbing disparagement of net neutrality which advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication. In other words, the free flow of information.

You don't have to watch the entire video. The net neutrality part starts at 4:13. Or you can read the complete text of his remarks on his site.

The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller, and potentially running roughshod over local broadcasters who have been serving their communities with free content for decades.

At the end of the last Congress, some members of Congress sought a compromise on net neutrality that would give Washington temporary control of the Internet while we sort this all out.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no compromise or middle ground when it comes to protecting our most basic freedoms.

So our new majority in the House is committed to using every tool at our disposal to fight a government takeover of the Internet…

We're also going to do what we can to see that no taxpayer dollars are used to fund these net neutrality rules.

He also brings up the Fairness Doctrine which required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced.

“The ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ that’s another threat to freedom with an innocuous name.

“This, as you know, is a censorship scheme from the 1940s mandating that competing viewpoints be offered on controversial topics. In other words, programming has to meet Washington’s definition of ‘balance.’

“The Fairness Doctrine thankfully met its demise in 1987. At which point, broadcasters from all walks finally had the freedom to practice their First Amendment rights on the airwaves.

This is a bit of an apples to oranges kind of thing, but the ideology he's applying is the same. The airwaves were considered to be held in the public trust and the Fairness Doctrine was created to prevent the media from becoming strictly propaganda tools. With the merging of media organizations there is no clear delineation of news and entertainment, but you probably already know that.

Have a look at what corporations own and you'll find that 90% of the media is controlled by the very few. If you don't care that the sites and information you access with the network connection you're using is controlled or limited by the corporation that provides that connection, then network neutrality does not concern you. If you believe corporations have First Amendment rights to determine what you what you can and can't access, then net neutrality does not concern you.

On the other hand, if you're not okay with allowing corporations make these decisions for you and not even telling you about it, perhaps you should write a letter.

Have you noticed that to get a truly balanced report on anything you almost always have to go to a news organization outside of our country? Sadly, that's telling in itself.

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