Moral Low Ground


FCC “Net Neutrality” Rules Bring Corporate Control of Internet One Big Step Closer to Reality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a set of so-called net neutrality rules that ostensibly aim to prevent internet providers from discriminating against legal content. Yet the new rules are less stringent for wireless providers, allowing mobile phone companies like Verizon, AT&T and others to block certain applications. Advocates of net neutrality say the rules don’t go far enough to protect the internet, while Republicans are also unhappy, believing  that investment and innovation will suffer.

US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) called net neutrality “the most important free speech issue of our time.”

“As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field,” the Saturday Night Live comedian-turned-Senator wrote on the Huffington Post“Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate,” he added.

Franken and many others fear that mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon will soon be able to shut off your access to content or applications if they desire.

“For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good,” Franken wrote. “Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).”

Another major concern is that corporations will be able to introduce “paid prioritization,” or fast-lanes on the internet where corporations can pay for faster content delivery. This naturally frightens small-time internet players (like, say, oh, Moral Low Ground, for instance) who lack the financial resources to compete in such a climate.

MLG is extremely concerned that the internet as we know it won’t be around for much longer. What’s to stop corporations from deciding which content we will have access to? In a country that more resembles a corporatocracy than a true democracy, consolidation of information into the hands of a few mega-media companies has been underway for decades now.

The internet was the greatest challenge to this ominous development, allowing an open exchange of ideas that could be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. Now this golden age of openness is in danger.

Democracy Now! examines net neutrality under attack, and how President Obama, who pledged to protect net neutrality during his 2008 election campaign, has flip-flopped on the issue.

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