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That's Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), internet hero, explaining just what net neutrality is, and why it's so critical that it be preserved. He expanded on those themes in an interview with Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate on Democracy Now!
Net neutrality has been the architecture of the Internet from the very beginning. What it means is it treats all digital content, all content that comes across the Internet to you, the consumer, through the Internet service providers, is all treated the same, is all treated equally or neutrally. And that has led to all this innovation that we've had over all these years on the Internet. And what Chairman Wheeler is talking about is allowing a fast lane, and it would be deep-pocketed corporations that would be able to buy this. And so, information would come to viewers from big corporations faster, or consumers. And this really would hurt innovation, and it has freedom of speech issues.

Let me give you just an example of why this—all information traveling the same has led to innovation. Years ago, there was a thing called Google Video, and it wasn't very good. And the guys who created YouTube did it in—over a pizzeria in San Mateo, California. It's a better product, and because it was—allowed travel the same speed as the Google product, people got to see it. And they sampled it, and they liked it better, and so we have YouTube. And in the same way, we've had all this explosion of innovation over the Internet because of net neutrality.

In the same way, this threatens democracy, something I know you're interested in. And because right now your show travels as fast as Fox News, travels as fast as The New York Times, someone blogging right now not liking what I'm saying could do this—you know, can do that and get it up as fast as any other piece of information. If you have a fast lane for corporate news and corporate information and corporate content, that threatens our very democracy.

Net neutrality has to be preserved, and the proposal the FCC has decided to move forward with doesn't do it. We've got until July 15 to convince them to do better, to really protect the internet by reclassifying broadband so that the FCC has a clear path and all the legal authority it needs to enforce net neutrality.

Please sign our petition to the FCC to keep a free and open internet.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My Senator. (11+ / 0-)

    Proud of him.

    And I'll be supporting his reelection campaign too.

    And I'll be joining him in the fight to preserve Net Neutrality.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:09:42 PM PDT

  •  The Stock Market Rigging (4+ / 0-)

    A better example would be the recent revelations concerning high speed computer trading. A few nanoseconds advantage allows the skimming of millions over a few days.

    Give corporate American a slight advantage over the hoi polloi and money managers will take out the K-Y Jelly.

    The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions. James Russell Lowell

    by Serendipity on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:10:14 PM PDT

  •  CGP Grey also explains it... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, Eric Nelson

    Sigline? What Sigline?

    by Khun David on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:15:07 PM PDT

  •  Well done, Senator! n/t (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:20:31 PM PDT

  •  Are you going to target Obama? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, Brown Thrasher

    Are you going to pressure Dems in Congress to, in turn, put pressure on Obama to protect net neutrality?

    That's how we were able to put a temporary halt to Social Security cuts.

    Pressure Obama, shine the spotlight on him.

    Pressure all Dems to, in turn, put pressure on Obama.

    Keep us posted, please on how this is proceeding, thanks!

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:21:38 PM PDT

  •  Another evil attempt to strip away ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Brown Thrasher

    the 1st amendment rights of the ordinary citizens and hand it over to big money, just as they did with our elections (Citizens United).

    I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cow bell!

    by glb3 on Mon May 26, 2014 at 05:48:47 PM PDT

  •  We wrote to Congress when Michael Powell, (3+ / 0-)

    then FCC chair, was about to make consolidation easier for big media. And by 'we' I mean the left, the center, the parents, the teachers, the right, the extremists, ... everyone, deluged Congress with 'stop this now.' I think Congress got something like 2 million communications in a week. They stepped in and stopped it (though technically, FCC is it's own world).

    Writing to the FCC? Okay. Writing to Congress? Do it. And ring the bell to get all factions in the US to do so as well. This is what has worked historically.

    A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned. -- Firefly

    by Jim P on Mon May 26, 2014 at 06:02:33 PM PDT

  •  Nice myth, but the actual answer is different (0+ / 0-)

    I've spent much of today working on my detailed Comment to the FCC on the current NN docket (due July 15, for those who want to get in on it).  I get Al's concern, but if you start with the wrong facts, you don't get the right results.

    The Internet itself has never, ever been neutral. In fact the reason that it exists, and that you aren't charged higher rates for "long distance" packets than "local" packets, is because the FCC in 1980 cleverly drew a bright line between common carriage ("basic service") and its content ("enhanced service").  The Internet is content, and as such, from 1980 until 2005, ISPs had a right to demand service from telephone companies.  Common carriage/basic service/telecommunications service/Title II service (four legal terms that overlap about 98%) is absolutely bit-neutral.  Spam, voice, pR0n, video whatever -- bits is bits.  This let real ISPs thrive, to the telephone companies' unhappiness, as their business model was all about silly stuff like long distance charges.  And because ISPs did not promise neutrality, they legally qualified as enhanced services, and didn't need state or federal licenses to operate, or to file tariffs, or go through the other regulatory hoops that phone companies deal with.  They were customers of the phone companies, not carriers.

    In 2005, the FCC finished abolishing the 1980 Computer II rules that made the Internet possible.  They proclaimed phone companies lines to be vertically integrated, not common carriage. (They did the same for cable a few years earlier, but cable had never been regulated as common carriage, so that was just confirming the status quo.)  So they no longer had to sell the basic service to competing ISPs.  Poof -- instead of a choice of many ISPs on the phone company wire, you had a choice of one.  

    Only then, with independent mass-market ISPs basically dead, could telco-ISPs and cable-ISPs even think about abusing their flexibility as enhanced/information service providers.  (Some ISPs survive doing business service, paying a lot for access to unregulated fiber.)  When you could just call up another ISP and tell them to take over your DSL, the phone company ISP had to be reasonable.  They did want to mess with content -- I actually wrote an article about that (not here, and I'm not outing myself) before the term "network neutrality" was even coined.  So of course there's a risk here. They didn't because here was a threat that the rules would change again.

    But to impose regulation across the whole Internet is harmful.  The regulation should be on the actual telecom function, the wire and "lower layers" that were traditionally basic telecom.  That needs to be restored. That is in fact one of the options in the current FCC docket, and it's clearly the one that the DC Circuit suggested in their January Verizon decision, which predictably overturned the FCC's intentionally-defective NN rules.

    And the simple fact is that the Internet itself has always been non-neutral.  Just one example:  Spamming is legal, but not allowed.  ISPs who sell service to spammers are subject to the "Mutually Assured Destruction" rule -- all of their traffic, from all of their customers, is cut off, and any ISP who fails to cut that ISP off is itself totally cut off.  It is simply forbidden by the (unwritten) code of ISPs to pass packets from a spam-friendly ISP.  And so there have been no spam-friendly ISPs since the mid-1990s. That's just one example of beneficial non-neutrality.

    The Internet's openness does need to be preserved. Lets just not kill the patient with the cure.

  •  Net Neutrality Sucks (0+ / 0-)

    It's the worst term for any position I've heard in decades.


    It won't happen.

    Words matter. The fact that Franken has to explain it shows how bad it is.

    Damn - just call it Open Net. You don't have to explain that one. It puts the burden on the opposition to explain why they're opposed to an open net. And bingo- you've just started to put the weasels on the defensive. It's so fucking easy.

    Why is the left so amazingly stupid when it comes to communication?

    •  I prefer "neutrality." (0+ / 0-)

      "Open net" implies, to me, an "anything goes" atmosphere, which would seem to apply to ISPs, the purveyors of information and consumers alike. Even a word like "equality" conjures the image of a governmental need to step in and right an injustice.

      From "neutrality," I get, simply, an absence of favoritism or advantage.  

      That's me, anyway. But I agree in general with your final point.

      •  Technically I agree (0+ / 0-)

        But when I see people's reaction to the term
        Net Neutrality" I know something isn't working.

        Technically Net Neutrality is right on the money. Problem is that it's not communicating what it was meant to communicate.

        Someone else suggested Net Freedom. Hmmm, maybe.

        •  I recall that... (0+ / 0-)

          ...when the term made its debut about a decade ago, it was rapidly countered with a "don't regulate the internet" narrative, which was of course a distortion, since any "regulation" contemplated would have applied not to "the internet," but to corporations.

          If it doesn't resonate, perhaps that's why.

          I hate the way monied interests turn anything populist into a dirty word.

  •  Meanwhile O sits silent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher

    and watches from the sidelines, and no good Democrat thinks it's pretty shitty that he won't lift a finger to help fix what he broke when he appointed a telco lobbyist as FCC chief.

  •  FCC & THE INTERNET (0+ / 0-)

    There should be no tiers.  No Fast or Slow lanes.  Once, two lanes are established; it is only a matter of time before there are three, four, etc. lanes.  The internet belongs to everyone.  Comcast, Time-Warner, ATT are internet connection providers.  Facebook, Twitter, Google are platform providers.  The rules governing the internet should be simple: open to all interested users without censorship or interference from either corporations or governments.
    Back in the ‘30’s the Roosevelt administration expanded electricity to rural areas.  Today, the government should expand fast-fiber broadband connectivity to both urban and rural America.  The FCC needs to ensure competition in urban areas and cheap open fiber in all areas.  Carriers should not have the power to bundle content with conduit.   The FCC should concentrate its efforts on improvement of the internet infrastructure and competition.  

  •  The FCC isn't even Constitutional. (0+ / 0-)

    Their name implies the restriction of communication.

    "It's no measure of health being well adjusted to a profoundly sick society"

    by buckshot face on Tue May 27, 2014 at 04:05:36 AM PDT

  •  Hi Joan! (0+ / 0-)

    I've read each of your posts, and it bothers me that they  only gets a couple dozen comments each, when stuff like "Sen. Idiot (R) said something stupid" gets over a hundred all the time. Net Neutrality is the paramount issue of the day, and is something entirely within the purview of that branch of the government we control, yet it is under serious attack. Sad that we can't get more attention to it, imho. Keep up the good work!

    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

    by bryduck on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:47:38 AM PDT

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