Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hey Congress! Save my Internet!

Yes, Save the Internet from the phone and cable companies.

The Bill: The Communication, Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006 was passed in the House of Representatives (as H.R. 5252) in May 2006, primarily sponsored by Joe Barton
(R-TX) from the House. The act primarily aims to create a national franchise for video providers. Currently, cable companies negotiate local franchise agreements with local governments to offer video (television) service to communities. They basically want lesser government intervention.

So what?

Loss of Net Neutrality is our foremost concern if this bill is passed. Net Neutrality is the principle that one should be able to access whatever web content or services you choose, without any interference from your Internet service provider. Right now, no law or rule protects citizens facing obstacles to getting access to the information on the Internet. The COPE bill would make it impossible for those protections to be written into law or rule, making us vulnerable to the bells who would like to "own" the Internet and mine it for profit.Some companies like Verizon and Comcast are contemplating on plans to create a two-tiered Internet, where some websites and services would travel in the "fast lane" for a fee - and the rest would be relegated to a "slow lane." Yahoo!, for example, could pay Internet service provider Verizon to have Yahoo e-mail work faster than Gmail. As a result, Verizon Internet users would find themselves pressured to use Yahoo Mail. As a supporter of network neutrality, I strongly feel that this type of favoritism would stifle innovation and competition on the Internet. What is the future for entrepreneurs and startups with hopes of becoming another Google or Yahoo???

Listen to Sen. Ted Kennedy talk about Net Neutrality here.

What's the status now?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its telecommunications bill, H.R. 5252, in May 2006, without adequate net neutrality protections. Now the fight has moved to U.S. Senate. On June 28, the Senate Commerce Committee passed its own telecom bill, S. 2686. While an amendment to the bill that would have added meaningful net neutrality safeguards, it failed 11-11. However, this tie vote marks a significant political victory and gives the effort new momentum. The debate now shifts to the full Senate, where advocates will be working to get strong net neutrality language into any bill that the Senate considers, preferably COPE.

Chief supporters for the Net Neutrality amendment
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, LendingTree, Adobe etc. Big names, huh? It may seem so, but it is still a David vs Goliath fight, if you see who they are competing with and their power in the Congress.
Institutional Officers:
House - Ed Markey (D-Mass)
Senate Commerce Committee - Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Sen. Byron Dorgan
Senate - Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen Rob Wyden (D-Ore)
Other Interest Groups
SaveTheInternet Coalition
It's Our Net Coalition

Do Visit these links...

Chief opponents to the amendment
Firms: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast etc. - small in number, but they are on the winning side. These are very powerful companies when it comes to lobbying Washington.
Institutional officers:
House -
Wisconsin Reps. Mark Green, Thomas Petri and Paul Ryan

So, we see that it is a fairly divided split between the Republicans and the Democrats, or well, or a little more in the favor of Net Neutrality are the Democrats.

Pivotal Parties (on neither side for the amendment, but support the COPE)
Cisco, Motorola, Corning

So, while we are waiting for the bill and the amendment to be heard in the Senate, those of us who feel that it is our Internet which cannot be snatched away by these telcos, can sign the petition, yes, before it is too late.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous!

8:18 PM  

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