Congress Sells OutAfter accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from big telecom firms, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is sponsoring a bill to hand over the Internet to these same companies. He’s not alone.Congress is about to sell out the Internet by letting big phone and cable companies set up toll booths along the information superhighway.Companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are spending tens of millions in Washington to kill “network neutrality” — a principle that keeps the Internet open to all.A bill moving quickly through Congress would let these companies become Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow — and which won’t load at all — based on who pays them more. The rest of us will be detoured to the “slow lane,” clicking furiously and waiting for our favorite sites to download.Don’t let Congress ruin the Internet:Our elected representatives are trading favors for campaign donations from phone and cable companies. They’re being wooed by people like AT&T’s CEO, who says “the Internet can’t be free” and wants to decide what you do, where you go and what you watch online.The best ideas never come from those with the deepest pockets. If the phone and cable companies get their way, the free and open Internet could soon be fenced in by large corporations. If Congress turns the Internet over to giants like AT&T, everyone who uses the Internet will suffer:
- Google users — Another search engine could pay AT&T to guarantee that it opens faster than Google on your computer
- iPod listeners — Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that paid for the privilege.
- Work-at-home parents — Connecting to your office could take longer if you don’t purchase your carrier’s preferred applications. Sending family photos and videos could slow to a crawl.
- Retirees — Web pages you always use for online banking, access to health care information, planning a trip or communicating with friends and family could fall victim to Verizon’s pay-for-speed schemes.
- Bloggers — Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips — silencing citizen journalists and amplifying the mainstream media.
- Online activists — Political organizing could be slowed by the handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay a fee to join the “fast lane.”
- Small businesses — When AT&T favors their own services, you won’t be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, and Internet phone calls.
- Innovators with the “next big idea” — Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay for a top spot on the Web.We can’t let Congress ruin the free and open Internet.We must act now or lose the Internet as we know it.Onward,Robert W. McChesney
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