Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Better Argument for Saving the Free Internet

From Steve Gilliard at The News Blog:

Killing your job, killing your life

A lot of people have been discussing "net neutrality" this week . You can hit this site to get the details.

But like a lot of political wonks, they're talking about bills and lobbying, and it all may make your eyes glaze over.

But it's really simple.

Remember the old AOL? How you were restricted to what they offered, and couldn't reach the internet. And when you could, you were stuck with their browser?

Do you want that back?


Also, there's been a lot of talk about blocking and slowing sites.

Think that's a small deal? Try reaching WebMD and not get it, when your kid is sick. Or being blocked from paying your Time Warner bill on a Verizon DSL line. Or being fired because your company is now paying millions to send interdepartmental e-mail and they have to make cuts.

The Telcos want to not only change the internet, they want to change your life. All of the things you now take for granted, like sending a text message via e-mail, or checking your mail on any computer, or seeing your kids homework assignment from pre-k to college course syllibuses. or that nanny cam or home security you set up.

This is not just about laws and computers, but your life.

Think about how we use the internet for the daily functions of our lives, banking, keeping in touch, dealing with distant workmates, ordering hard to find items.


Everyone is worried about political speech and using Google. and those are real concerns.

But this will change the way you use the net to make your life better. It will limit your choices and the ability to have the life you want, the way you want. It will limit what bank you use, what shows you follow, what make up you use and how you wash your clothes. It may even limit your ability to protect your home from robbers and your child from abuse.

If they can charge for services online, they can limit your ability to live the life you choose. That cam in the Pre-K you check in on your kids with, may cost too much for the school if you have to pay to get live video. You may find the cost of checking on your house with streaming video too much.

When my 10 year old nephew needed ties for school, real ties, not clip-ons, it took me two hours to find some at a reasonable price, but I found them. My sisters couldn't find them in stores, but I found them online. I don't know what would have happened if I didn't have access to the Internet. Within a week, he had ties for every day of school. Is that a big deal? No. But it made a difference.

Their quest for profits isn't just about limiting your speech, although it will have that effect. It will limit your life. All the little things you do, from order silicone bakeware to planning your Vegas vacation, will now be subject to the whims of the people who own the pipes.

When you write to your Congressmember, remind them how easy the Net has made their lives, their personal lives, and how the Telcos want to limit that, based on the spurious idea that they need to make a profit from the Internet. Call it Google envy.

The problem is that the internet is now the main highway for life in the west. It makes real life that much better. We're no longer limited to local shortages and catalog ordering. Small companies can make their livings from customers around the world. And the telcos want to end this in the illusory search for profits.

The telcos want to go back to the past, and ruin your life in the process.

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