TODAY: Take Action for Net Neutrality

Last night, President Obama, in his State of the Union speech, made clear that net neutrality is important to everyone throughout the world.

“I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

We already know that if we don’t continue to have unfettered and free access to this most important utility, the voices of so many people will be unnecessarily silenced, bringing us further under the corporatized, enslaving stranglehold by a small group of elites who lack any empathy for the rest of us.

As the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) seems poised to put all (or at least some) protections of net neutrality in place, powerful lobbyists representing corporations who wish to exploit this utility for their own financial gain are gaming the U.S. Congress in an attempt to circumnavigate the FCC.

[This was Comcast’s big play all along] . . . if they lose the FCC, get Congress to do the dirty work. Now it’s happening. There are two fake net neutrality bills in motion that wouldn’t stop cable companies from discriminating against certain sites, but would block the FCC from enforcing real rules. — Holmes Wilson of  Fight for the Future

We can’t wait until President Obama has to veto attempts by Congress to do the dirty work of the corporatists, or for a possible Republican president in 2 years to allow this travesty. Click here to call the committee members, right now and tell them to stop standing in the way of real net neutrality. We need *everyone* to do this.

So take a few minutes now to call as many of them as you can.

How awesome would it be if while they’re at these bogus hearings, they get panicked texts from staff about the HUGE number of pro-net neutrality calls? 

Many of you have been active all year in making sure the FCC hears your voice. The FCC acknowledged the millions of calls and statements in favor of making the internet a public utility, like water, electricity, and your phone, as it should be. We were heard, and up until this unnecessary interference to neutralize the power of the FCC, it’s been looking good.

We can’t give up, we won’t give up. Make your voice heard, today especially.



Anti Net Neutrality Lobbyists Will Stop At Nothing

Why Phone and Cable Companies Want to Kill the Internet’s Most Democratic Right

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

Lobbyists representing phone and cable companies have now reorganized and doubled down on disinformation campaigns. They are crying censorship against advocates who want to preserve the built-in democracy of the Internet that guarantees everyone a voice.

After all, corporations are people, folks. Therefore, net neutrality advocates are interfering with these large companies free speech rights.

Industry-funded think tanks have argued that any enforceable effort to protect the open Internet denies phone and cable companies their First Amendment right “by compelling them to convey content providers’ messages with which they may disagree.”


This specious argument asserts that these large companies are de facto editors of Internet content and in that role they should be able to delimit the free speech of the rest of us. News flash: they are not the “owners” of the Internet.

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon announce its new rules. Will the Internet be re-established as a common carrier, like all other public utilities, or will it allow large corporations own the Internet, charging more for privileged “fast lanes” (a cost to be passed on to consumers) and relegating the rest of us to wobbly “slow lanes” or no lane at all because your content has been censored?

Here is what you need to know . . .

Returning the Internet to the widely used common-carrier standard is what these industry types fear most. It’s a fear that has reached a fever pitch after an overwhelming majority of the public urged the FCC to protect real Net Neutrality and reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

“Are your phone lines censored? Are enterprise lines censored? Are mobile voice services censored? All of these are common carriers. We need the same assurances with our Internet communications.” (Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment scholar and Internet policy consultant, Washington, D.C.)

Any two-way communications network that serves the public is not supposed to block, degrade or otherwise unreasonably discriminate in the transmission of the content it carries across its networks.

Why do we so often champion net neutrality? Believing as we do that all oppression and coercive systems by governments, corporations, and religious hierarchies stand in the way of economic and social justice (and peace), it is important that the powerless always have an unhindered voice. Human rights deserve, need, our active protection whether pertaining equality rights, sexual freedom, the environment, immigration, etc., and the end of all war and racism. For more, check out our related manifesto.

What’s your issue? What do you feel passionately about? Let us know what you are doing. If you are just going to sit there, get up and get busy, okay?



TODAY: Actions You Can Take to Assure Net Neutrality

Courtesy of Free Press

Courtesy of Free Press

We may be experiencing the last few days when we can be sure that the Internet will remain free from the control of mega-corporations at the expense of the little guy. Sites such as Comcast and AT&T could be getting fast lanes, the cost of which would be borne by you the consumer. Other websites, the ones you love, would be relegated to die on the vine in slow lanes.

But there are things you can do over the next few days to make the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassifies broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

Tomorrow there will be a world-wide “slowdown” for websites large and small to urge end-users like you to take action in the next few days by submitting comments up until midnight (EST) this Monday, September 15. If you want the Internet to remain the global free marketplace of ideas it has always been, where those without a voice are guaranteed a chance to be heard, then please do one or more of these things.

Besides tomorrow’s slowdown, you can call for net neutrality by . . .

Don’t sit on your hands.


FreePress.net and savetheinternet.com, thank you for all your work!



Take Action On Wednesday for Net Neutrality


One of the most consequential decisions Washington is set to make in 2014 won’t come out of the White House, Congress, or any of the nation’s boardrooms, but rather from a nondescript federal building along the city’s southwest waterfront. It’s here, in the offices of the Federal Communications Commission, that the fate of the Internet will be decided. (via The Huffingnton Post)

A court ruling earlier this year throwing out earlier rules led the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) to vote 3-2 to debate the issue again, a time to put all the issues on the table but not without risk. If these new rules are approved, media mega-corporations such as Comcast and Verizon will be able to offer fast lanes to certain clients, such as Netflix, all at the consumer’s expense of course. This would leave smaller companies, the non-profit sector, and individuals stuck in slow lanes, withering.

Defenders of net neutrality want the Internet to remain the free international marketplace of ideas it is, where everyone has the same opportunity to be heard. Many of us  flooded the FCC with hundreds of thousands of messages during the public comment period on these draft rules. More background: here, here, and here.

Now, frighteningly, this epic decision is now in the hands of two FCC commissioners, both women, both Democrats, but our fate is still very much in doubt. Chair Tom Wheeler has come out in favor of net neutrality although the fact that he has entertained this draft proposal is somehow at odds with that position. The Republicans, both men, on the commission are going to vote with the mega-corporations, of course.

A day of action for this Wednesday, September 10, is planned and everyone can take part. At battleforthenet.com you can find out how you can participate directly in this Internet Slowdown campaign. The site is the product of several well-respected net neutrality advocacy organizations.

All day on Wednesday, websites big and small will display the notorious symbol of dysfunction, the dreaded spinning wheel of death, to promote users to content the FCC, Congress, and the White House. (This will be a display, only, not actually affecting any website.)

Over 100 tech companies, including Google and Amazon, came together last spring to oppose these proposed new rules . . . warn[ing] of a “grave threat to the Internet.” Most of these companies have pledged to participate on Wednesday, and hopefully they will.

Whether you a small website or a big Internet company, or if you just have a blog, you can get the code. If you have a mobile app, send a push notification. On social media, change your avatar to a spinning wheel of death, or freely share some of battleforthenet.com’s cool images.

All the tools to do this are at battleforthenet.com, including a Citizen’s Petition and software to make a banner. It’s all about prompting as many people as possible to flood political decision-makers to fight off yet another assault by big business.

Even if you only have a Facebook account you can participate. If you have clout, use it! By working together in coalition we can succeed, and help end the domination of corporations over people.







A Neutral Guide to Net Neutrality

“Freedom of communication with any application to any party is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and now is the basis of the society we’ve built on the Internet.” — Tim Berners-Lee

Thanks to Stephanie Crets and the folks at singlehop.com, we are happy to add the following material to our conversation about the importance of net neutrality, the only thing making sure that all voices, big and small, are heard.

As always, your comments are welcome.

(This poster is not original to the article, however.)

Free Press Flickr/creative Commons

Free Press
Flickr/creative Commons


A Neutral Guide to Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality has been the topic of intense conversation recently, as the FCC solicits and considers public comments about how to regulate Internet traffic. We’ve put together the overview below to help you understand the issues and players that influence the way we use the Internet daily for business, research, entertainment, and social activities.

Net Neutrality Overview

Net Neutrality refers to the idea that all data on the Internet should be treated equally by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For most of the Internet’s history, ISPs generally did not distinguish between the various types of content that flow through their networks, whether web pages, email, or other forms of information. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the few ISPs that tried to block certain types of data faced strong opposition from consumers, tech companies, and regulators.

With the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as Netflix, ISPs have increasingly sought to sell more bandwidth, or “fast lanes,” to companies willing to pay for it. Other traffic would move through their networks at a slower pace.

An FCC History of Net Neutrality

The term “Network Neutrality” (later shortened to Net Neutrality) was coined by legal scholar Tim Wu in a 2003 study of potential ways to regulate the Internet. Over the last decade, the FCC has tried multiple times to enforce “guiding principles” in support of Net Neutrality.

In 2007, the FCC ruled that Comcast had illegally throttled its users’ service, but the ruling was struck down by the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.[1] In 2010, the FCC passed a regulatory order intended “to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression.”[2] Verizon Communications challenged the new rules in court, and in January 2014, the D.C. Circuit again struck down the FCC’s ruling.[3]

In response to the most recent ruling, the FCC proposed another rulemaking and solicited public comments through July 15, 2014, with a reply comment period through September 10, 2014. During that period, members of the public can comment by visiting www.fcc.gov/comment or emailing openinternet@fcc.gov.[4]

Arguments for Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality proponents argue that the Internet should provide a “level playing field” by codifying an open-access model of the Internet in which all data is treated equally. In support of Net Neutrality, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has stated, “Freedom of communication with any application to any party is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and now is the basis of the society we’ve built on the Internet.”[5]

Responding to opposition against government regulation, supporters of Net Neutrality argue that regulation is necessary to preserve the previously voluntary open access. Some have equated such regulation as similar to the First Amendment, and Senator Al Franken has called Net Neutrality “the most important free speech issue of our time.”[6]

Replying to concerns about interference with the free market, Net Neutrality advocates argue that 96% of Americans have access to two or fewer wired broadband providers,[7] which means that there is very little ISP competition now. Network Neutrality rules, they contend, would prevent ISPs from suppressing competitors and inhibiting startup companies such as YouTube, which started as a small company competing with Google Video before Google bought it in 2006.

Arguments Against Net Neutrality

Opponents of Net Neutrality regulation argue that ISPs should be allowed to charge more for bandwidth-intensive services that heavily use the Internet’s infrastructure. Offering tiered service, they add, will allow consumers to receive faster traffic for high-demand services, such as multimedia streaming, video conferencing, and cloud-based IT.

Other opponents of Net Neutrality rules argue from a libertarian perspective, asserting that the government should refrain from interfering with the Internet. Some have likened regulation of an open Internet to the institution of common carrier locomotive transportation laws in the late 19th century, which they claim subsequently raised prices and degraded service.[8] Christopher Yoo, a legal professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has argued that common carrier regulation has historically been poorly implemented, and similar rules should be avoided with respect to the Internet.[9]

In response to claims that tiered service will hinder innovation and discourage competition, Net Neutrality opponents claim that regulations will suppress creative, free-market solutions that might otherwise emerge.

The Future of Net Neutrality

Arguments supporting and in opposition to Net Neutrality proceed in a variety of places — online, through traditional media, in political venues, and elsewhere. People on each side position themselves as champions of freedom and innovation, while companies and organizations lobby rulemakers in Washington, D.C..

Meanwhile, companies continue wrangling over how high-bandwidth services should be delivered over the Internet. In February, Netflix saw a slowdown in its service as it tried to negotiate connection fees with broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast,[10] an event later used by Net Neutrality proponents as an example of ISPs limiting other companies’ service to get what they want — although others have argued that the event had nothing to do with Net Neutrality.[11] Net Neutrality supporters have noted that in 2013, Comcast spent more than $18 million on lobbying efforts, more than any other single company except defense contractor Northrop Grummon.[12]

In April 2014, a set of rules proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for cable and wireless companies, indicated that the FCC may abandon its previous Net Neutrality position and consider letting ISPs provide tiered service. Wheeler denied that the proposed rules changed the FCC’s position,[13] but more than 100 companies supporting Net Neutrality wrote a letter to the chairman in May criticizing the proposed rules.[14]

Whatever rules the FCC eventually establishes, they will have a great impact on how we continue to use the Internet in our personal, professional, and political lives. Understanding the issues and players involved is important to anticipating the how clients, service providers and even competitors will respond.


1. https://www.eff.org/files/Comcast%20v%20FCC%20(DC%20Cir%202010).pdf 
2. https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-201A1.pdf 
3. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/how-the-fcc-screwed-up-its-chance-to-make-isp-blocking-illegal/ 
4. http://www.fcc.gov/document/fact-sheet-protecting-and-promoting-open-internet 
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jev2Um-4_TQ#t=11 
6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-franken/the-most-important-free-s_b_798984.html 
7. http://www.broadband.gov/plan/4-broadband-competition-and-innovation-policy/ 
8. http://www.cato.org/blog/fccs-net-neutrality-rules 
9. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2370068 
10. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014240527023048997045793912 23249896550 
11. http://www.cnet.com/news/comcast-vs-netflix-is-this-really-about-net-neutrality/ 
12. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2013&indexType=s 
13. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=0 
14. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014240527023037013045795483 64154205126
Read more at http://www.singlehop.com/blog/a-neutral-guide-to-net-neutrality/#bVqjugyWdkAZV3cW.99

Obama Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

Obama Contradicts FCC Chief on Fast Lanes, Net Neutrality Backers Say

Net neutrality is the idea that the Internet should be an open platform, and broadband companies shouldn’t be able to interfere with your right to access content and services on line. — Sam Gustin for motherboard.vice.com

President Obama made a strong and clear declaration supporting net neutrality during his remarks on Tuesday to the US-Africa Business Forum since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to make new rules governing the Internet.

“I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users,” Obama added. “You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.”

Free Press Flickr/creative commons

Free Press
Flickr/creative commons

Besides allowing for innovation by maintaining net neutrality, any restrictions on free access to the Internet will make it more difficult for organizations and others to be heard, essentially destroying the inherent democracy intended in the first place.

Instead of treating it like any other utility as it should, the FCC is seriously entertaining a proposal to allow certain big corporations such as Verizon and Comcast to pay more for broader and faster access, costs which consumers will ultimately bear, and overpowering the service that others get.

The period for public comments, variously estimated to be 677,000 to more than one million, ended in mid-July, and the FCC has promised to read and consider each one. These comments are now available to analysts, journalists, and consumers, and early reports have them running 99 to 1 in favor of no special interest regulations.

But because monied corporate power seems to have no bounds these days, we have keep paying attention to this issue until the FCC formally rejects the very notion of these pay-to-play regulations.





Winning (so far). Net Neutrality Protest Tomorrow

Grassroots efforts to save Net neutrality may be working

. . . more needs to be done to ensure the Internet is protected.



There’s no time to waste in feeling gratified even though advocacy organizations such as Free Press, CREDOand MoveOn.org, along with tech companies such as Google and Facebook, and rank-and-file grassroots activists are so far holding back attempts to commercialize the Internet in ways that would impede the otherwise free flow of media and data. 

Corporate special interests will not relent and neither must we. They want to secure fast lanes, the cost of which will be absorbed by everyday consumers, and simultaneously destroy the inherent democracy and equality of access that makes the Internet such a powerful tool of economic growth and social change.

We urge you to participate in a public protest at the Washington, DC, headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission (445 12th Street, SW), tomorrow, Thursday, May 15, at 9 AM.  And, to keep the pressure on.


“We absolutely think this is a fight we can win . . . This time people are wiling to fight in a way they weren’t willing to in 2010. People realize what is at stake now. And they don’t want the Internet turning into Comcast.” (Becky Bond, CREDO)


Net Neutrality on the front burner, at last

Basically Every Big Internet Firm Signs Letter Against FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

There has been a rush of public pressure on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to put off the May 15 vote that would drastically change the Internet. The commission has proposed allowing big providers (Verizon and Comcast to name two) to create higher priced “fast lanes” for big media companies such as Netflix to move their content, costs that will be passed onto consumers. Instead of maintaining the free and democratic access to the utility of the Internet, there would be winners and losers, different classes of Internet users.



Now over a 100 tech companies, including Google and Amazon, have come together to oppose these proposed new rules, in an effort organized by New America’s Open Technology Institute. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and the agency’s four commissioners, the companies warn of “grave threat to the Internet.”

Right now there is a split among the commission chair and two Democratic members on whether or not these rules go into effect next week. The Republican commissioners are on the side of maintaining the Internet’s existing net neutrality.

As we have pointed out before, this issue should be important to every small business owner, every non-profit organization, and every activist who makes way for the voiceless. Just a casual look at emerging democracies is proof enough of just how important net neutrality is to the eventual peaceful resolution of all differences, and how it will help end of the most destructive forms of nationalism.

Get involved, and make your voice heard.


Net Neutrality: Who is minding our store?

FCC’s Reported Capitulation around Open Internet Protections is a Major Step Backward

“If true, this proposal is a huge step backwards and just must be stopped,” said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner who now serves as a special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “If the Commission subverts the Open Internet by creating a fast lane for the 1 percent and slow lanes for the 99 percent, it would be an insult to both citizens and to the promise of the Net.”

Susan Striech, WikiCommons Fair Use/Educational

Susan Striech, WikiCommons
Fair Use/Educational

Technologists, activists, and regular people like you have been trying to get the rest of us to pay attention to one of the most destructive efforts afoot in government today — the dismantling of the Internet as we know it, a beloved creation bestowed upon our culture that it cannot and should not be without, a method of worldwide communication, a tool of epic proportions to make the world a better place, right up there with clean air and water.

Most people know that the Internet was first developed for the Department of Defense as ARPANET, circa 1970 in order to facilitate communication between contractors and various agencies within the government for research and development purposes. (It so happens VenusPlusX Co-Founder Dan Massey was involved in this project professionally, so we were among the first to “go on line.”) Only after the Internet became available for public use, making every user an instant author, were the full dimensions of Internet potential realized. First in, pornographers, who at one point in the 80s were responsible for 50% of commercial Internet traffic. As the first generation of adults to start using the Internet, we quickly realized what the Internet meant to us personally, how it would change our lives, how we could use it to build a better future, how even the most vulnerable among us would finally have a platform to be heard in our new “town square.”

We started writing about the importance of preserving net neutrality a couple of years ago, when it was threatened by congressional efforts of control content and its flow to users (SOPA, PIPA), and even the White House’s proposed Online Privacy Bill of Rights. It’s always been somewhat a mystery why this subject doesn’t draw more attention and activism. Perhaps now that we are about to lose the best aspects of the Internet, more people will take this on as a primary issue.

Were we lulled into the belief that Obama, having campaigned on a platform of securing net neutrality both in 2008 and 2012, and a seemingly cooperative Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be enough to stave off the opportunistic, profiteering, parasitic special interests by providers such as Verizon and Comcast? After  a judge struck down the FCC’s ruling that disallowed charging different rates for different content, the Commission is now circulating new draft rules that would in practice allow corporations to control the Internet and the speed at which information moves across it. Everyday people, small business owners and organizations, the voiceless, will all be shut out. Payola used to be a dirty word for it but what we are about to experience is a complex pay-to-play scheme whereby providers name the price that Netflix, HBO, and other users must pay to stream their material, costs which will be passed onto to consumers.

Like every other part of our government lately it seems, special corporate interests have trumped the will of the people, and, in the case of net neutrality, the needs of the deserving, the voice for voiceless.

Get off our couches, and do something about it!

To learn more go to: Common CauseThe Washington Post and The Huffington Post.