[cross posted at Wisconsin Coalition for Network Neutrality]
Network Neutrality legislation is already convoluted. It frames the conflict between the telcos and the cable companies, with AT&T and friends seeking a legislative mandate for competition in video distribution markets that cable companies currently dominate. Public utilities franchises, the Commerce Clause of the constitution, rules governing common carriage, and more are all muddled together in a complex market that cries out for a clear set of regulations that protect the people’s right to use the virtual commons of the internet in a way little different from our rights to use the public highways.
We need free access with no monopoly manipulation that segregates the “little guys” from big media and gives big media a priority within the network. I think we can come back to this highway metaphor again and again. This post is not to lay out any of the complexities of the issues before us, there is plenty of time and space for that, but rather to create a clear distinction of “us” and “them.” WE support net neutrality. THEY support a tiered structure that permits the stewards of the Internet public trust to manipulate the market to their own ends. WE support the four Internet Freedoms laid out by FCC Chairman Michael Powell. THEY support their own freedom to dominate markets, control content, and maximize corporate profits by dictating what they feel is appropriate use of the Internet.
What are the four Internet Freedoms? Here’s how Michael Powell laid them out…
Freedom to Access Content
First, consumers should have access to their choice of legal content. Consumers have come to expect to be able to go where they want on high-speed connections, and those who have migrated from dial-up would presumably object to paying a premium for broadband if certain content were blocked. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to commit to allowing consumers to reach the content of their choice. I recognize that network operators have a legitimate need to manage their networks and ensure a quality experience, thus reasonable limits sometimes must be placed in service contracts. Such restraints, however, should be clearly spelled out and should be as minimal as necessary.
Freedom to Use Applications
Second, consumers should be able to run applications of their choice. As with access to content, consumers have come to expect that they can generally run whatever applications they want. Again, such applications are critical to continuing the digital broadband migration because they can drive the demand that fuels deployment. Applications developers must remain confident that their products will continue to work without interference from other companies. No one can know for sure which “killer” applications will emerge to drive deployment of the next generation high-speed technologies. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to let the market work and allow consumers to run applications unless they exceed service plan limitations or harm the providerâ€™s network.
Freedom to Attach Personal Devices
Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes. Because devices give consumers more choice, value and personalization with respect to how they use their high-speed connections, they are critical to the future of broadband. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to permit consumers to attach any devices they choose to their broadband connection, so long as the devices operate within service plan limitations and do not harm the providerâ€™s network or enable theft of service. Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information.
Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans
Simply put, such information is necessary to ensure that the market is working. Providers have every right to offer a variety of service tiers with varying bandwidth and feature options. Consumers need to know about these choices as well as whether and how their service plans protect them against spam, spyware and other potential invasions of privacy. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to ensure that broadband consumers can easily obtain the information they need to make rational choices among an ever-expanding array of different pricing and service plan.
This post is called “Wisconsin Whip.” Wisconsin has eight US Representatives and two Senators. (See the convenient table below). Our job is to whip these people into supporting network neutrality and the four freedoms as legislation emerges during this congressional session. This is not a partisan issue. It is not about Democrats versus Republicans. It is about preserving the rights we have now and not giving them up to either the telephone companies, or to the cable companies or to some alliance of both. Contact your legislator and see where s/he stands.
|Member Name||DC Phone||DC FAX|
|Senator Herb Kohl (D- WI)||202-224-5653||202-224-9787|
|Senator Russell D. Feingold (D- WI)||202-224-5323||202-224-2725|
|Representative Paul Ryan (R – 01)||202-225-3031||202-225-3393|
|Representative Tammy Baldwin (D – 02)||202-225-2906||202-225-6942|
|Representative Ron Kind (D – 03)||202-225-5506||202-225-5739|
|Representative Gwen Moore (D – 04)||202-225-4572||202-225-8135|
|Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R – 05)||202-225-5101||202-225-3190|
|Representative Thomas E. Petri (R – 06)||202-225-2476||202-225-2356|
|Representative David R. Obey (D – 07)||202-225-3365|
|Representative Mark Green (R – 08)||202-225-5665||202-225-5729|