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Net Neutrality Free Speech

At left in the foreground, a printer removes a...

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Crossposted at Sky Dancing.


**Update below 12/20 at 9:38

Victor Hugo had it right…the printing press was the greatest invention of the times.

Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.

*The book is about to kill the edifice*.

The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented intelligence.

In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once.

I put this to you…would you say that the internet, in its most basic and important form, is second to the printing press as the greatest invention of the age? One could argue, with the recent release of Wikileaks, the use of the internet and apps like Twitter during the Iranian Elections, and the ability to connect with other people to share and discuss ideas…the internet has become, the mother of revolution. The internet is indeed a shape-shifter, changing its form and becoming like that flock of birds, spreading knowledge and information to the four corners of the world…occupying “all points of air and space at once.” Hugo’s description of the printed word can directly relate to the written word, via the net.

Tomorrow, the FCC will hold a commission meeting and vote to pass the Net-Neutrality bill that has been brought forward by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. There has been lots of speculation about what the bill will actually say, but many believe that the recent embrace of the legislation by big companies…like Verizon and Google, et al., is a signal that the language protecting freedom of the net, will be vague at least. Put your tin foil hats on…and lets get through the “spin”…here we go.

How appropriate that the Federal Communications Commission has picked the darkest day of the year to vote on its new Net Neutrality rules. Unless they are dramatically improved at the 11th hour, the FCC’s proposal will go down as one of the bleakest moments in the history of the Internet.

We will look back years from now on Tuesday’s vote as a squandered opportunity, where old-fashioned D.C. politics, weak-kneed FCC leadership, and jaw-dropping short-sightedness sacrificed the most remarkable engine for economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech ever invented.

I’m not saying this is the end of the fight or that new and amazing things won’t happen online, but the FCC’s epic failure to get this right will make things unquestionably worse. Somehow, an FCC chairman cheered on by millions of Americans and backed by a presidential endorsement ended up making rules designed to win over AT&T, rather than you and me.

Net Neutrality’s supporters are being asked to compromise and cave so that the biggest phone and cable companies don’t make things uncomfortable for Julius Genachowski in the next Congress. So in the waning days before the vote, the chairman and his proxies have been spending their timeslandering the principled members of the commission and cajoling tech-company CEOs to remain uncritical unless they want their other priorities to be deep-sixed in the future.

Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the sorry state of things at the FCC than the pitiful PR campaign mounted by the Genachowski’s office to demonstrate support for his disappointing proposal. It turns out that most of the folks willing to stand behind the chairman are those who’ve been trying to kill Net Neutrality from the start.

The problem is that even though a law regarding the openness and freedom of net-neutrality is something that we and the government regulations should address, to pass a bill with weak language will only make access to the internet free and equal for all, more convoluted.

Even Al Franken has put his own thoughts of Freedom of Speech and the FCC’s Net Neutrality…

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. 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.

This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.


Although Chairman Genachowski’s draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.

For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.


But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we’ve been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.

No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate — and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules.

I think that there are very important freedoms here at stake. The one person who seemed to have the ability to stand up and make sure that the language in the bill is not weak, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, has just made a statement to the press that he will not stand in the way of Genachowski’s proposal. With Dems’ Support, FCC Likely to Approve Net Neutrality Rules | News & Opinion |

Commissioner Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn will vote in favor of the FCC’s net neutrality rules at Tuesday’s open commission meeting, an FCC official said Monday. They had some suggestions about how to improve the first draft, some of which were incorporated into the rules to satisfy their concerns, the official said.

“The open Internet is a crucial American marketplace, and I believe that it is appropriate for the FCC to safeguard it by adopting an Order that will establish clear rules to protect consumers’ access,” Clyburn said in a statement. “The Commission has worked tirelessly to offer a set of guidelines that, while not as strong as they could be, will nonetheless protect consumers as they explore, learn, and innovate online. As such, I plan to vote to approve in part and concur in part the Open Internet Order during the FCC’s open meeting tomorrow.

PC World has a summary of the guidelines:

The FCC official, however, provided some insight into what we’ll find in the order. Specifically, the order provides three high-level rules: robust transparency requirements that apply to fixed broadband and wireless providers; a no-blocking rule that bans the blocking of lawful content and apps or services for fixed broadband providers and bans the blocking of Web sites or apps that compete with broadband providers’ voice or video telephony services for mobile providers; and a no unreasonable discrimination rule for fixed broadband providers. What else?

Tiered pricing: The order discusses the issue of broadband providers giving users choice for broadband service, and notes that this could be beneficial for some customers, the FCC official said. But it can also pose risks and is something that the FCC will be monitoring.

Paid Prioritization: This is something that would be evaluated under the unreasonable discrimination standard and would be unlikely to stand up to FCC scrutiny, the official said. The order explains the FCC’s concerns about paid prioritization and says it’s unlikely to be deemed reasonable. Theoretically, however, there might one day be a technology where it’s appropriate to incorporate paid prioritization, but that is left open and the bar is very high, the official said.

FCC Legal Authority: The main reason the FCC is addressing this issue right now is because an appeals court in April said that the FCC had no right to hand down a 2008 network enforcement action against Comcast for unreasonable network management. The FCC, however, rejects that premise and believes that the previous FCC – which handed down the action – simply failed to demonstrate enough of a connection between the statute that gives the FCC its authority and the specific action it took in that case. As a result, tomorrow’s order addresses a number of sections in the Communications Act that support the steps the FCC is taking on net neutrality.

Addressing Complaints: If someone files an unreasonable network management complaint against an ISP, what will happen? Anyone can file a complaint and the FCC will then decide whether or not to initiate an inquiry. The FCC official said any complaint the commission does take up will be addressed quickly under an accelerated timeframe so as not to drag on for months on end. Those who are found to be in violation of the FCC’s net neutrality rules could face fines or be forced to stop the offending behavior.

I am no lawyer, and being a medievalist, would prefer we stick with scribes ( 😉 joking of course.) I just am concerned with the issue that so many big communication companies are for this Genachowski plan. I am sure there are some readers who can give some input on this. I will end this post with a scene from the 1939 classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Update!!!! I feel that this rule is going to lead to censorship. As I said below…I think that the fees are just gravy. This will eventually become a way for the companies to censor the web/net that they offer. Think about it. When the companies start charging for extra services…or special services, then they could turn around and limit/control what is on those services…I really think this is the issue at its core.

Thank you to Zal for sending me this:

Obama FCC Caves on Net Neutrality — Tuesday Betrayal Assured

Late Monday, a majority of the FCC’s commissioners indicated that they’re going to vote with Chairman Julius Genachowski for a toothless Net Neutrality rule.

According to all reports, the rule, which will be voted on during tomorrow’s FCC meeting, falls drastically short of earlier pledges by President Obama and the FCC Chairman to protect the free and open Internet.

The rule is so riddled with loopholes that it’s become clear that this FCC chairman crafted it with the sole purpose of winning the endorsement of AT&T and cable lobbyists, and not defending the interests of the tens of millions of Internet users.

Welcome to AT&T’s Internet

For the first time in history of telecommunications law the FCC has given its stamp of approval to online discrimination.

Instead of a rule to protect Internet users’ freedom to choose, the Commission has opened the door for broadband payola – letting phone and cable companies charge steep tolls to favor the content and services of a select group of corporate partners, relegating everyone else to the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

Instead of protecting openness on wireless Internet devices like the iPhone and Droid, the Commission has exempted the mobile Internet from Net Neutrality protections. This move enshrines Verizon and AT&T as gatekeepers to the expanding world of mobile Internet access, allowing them to favor their own applications while blocking, degrading or de-prioritizing others.

Instead of re-establishing the FCC’s authority to act as a consumer watchdog over the Internet, it places the agency’s authority on a shaky and indefensible legal footing — giving ultimate control over the Internet to a small handful of carriers.

Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’

Internet users deserve far better, and we thought we were going to get it from a president who promised to “take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality.” Watch as he and his FCC chairman try to spin tomorrow’s betrayal as another “mission accomplished.”

Don’t believe it. This bogus victory has become all too familiar to those watching the Obama administration and its appointees squander opportunities for real change. The reality is that reform is just a rhetorical front for industry compromises that reward the biggest players and K-Street lobbyists while giving the public nothing.

It’s not the FCC chairman’s job to seek consensus among the corporations that he was put into office to regulate. His duty is to protect Internet users.

More than two million people have taken action on behalf of Net Neutrality. Tomorrow, we’ll all get the carpet yanked from beneath our feet.

Net Neutrality is the freedom of speech, freedom of choice issue of the 21st century. It’s the guarantee of a more open and democratic media system that was baked into the Internet at its founding.

On Tuesday, Obama’s FCC is going to sell that out.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939 \”A printing press!\”

“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” (1939)

(Scene – Notre-Dame striking the hour as viewed from a first-floor printer’s window. KING LOUIS, FROLLO and PRINTER observe.)

KING: I’ve never heard a more beautiful Angelus. Who is the bellringer of Notre-Dame?

PRINTER: Quasimodo, your Majesty. The people simply call him ‘the hunchback’.

KING: Quasimodo? Hmph! What an odd name! And now, Master Fisher, let us see what reason my High Justice had for asking me to come to your shop. What do you call this apparatus?

PRINTER: The German inventor Gutenberg calls it a ‘printing press’, Your Majesty.

KING: And what is it for?

PRINTER: To print books, your Majesty.

KING: For whom?

PRINTER: For the people. They will learn to read when they can get books. I can print a volume like this one in a few weeks, and quite inexpensively.

KING: Imagine, Frollo, a few weeks. When I ordered my prayer book, it took them years to copy it out, and cost me a fortune. (Indicating illuminated book) This is more beautiful than the printed book. Nevertheless, the printing press is a miracle.

FROLLO: A horrifying miracle.

KING: Horrifying? This small press?

FROLLO: Small things have a way of overmastering the great. The Nile rat kills the crocodile. This small press can destroy a kingdom.

KING: Oh come, come, my High Justice, don’t exaggerate! (to PRINTER) What is that?

PRINTER: It is the first page of a new book, your Majesty.

KING: Let me see it. “On the Freedom of Thought”. Who wrote it?

PRINTER: Pierre Gringoire.

KING: Gringoire? Who is he?

PRINTER: A French poet, Your Majesty.

FROLLO: A heretic, Sire. To spread him is to communicate disease.

KING: How do you know? It may be a great blessing to France that people can get books and learn to read. To me, it’s a new form of expression of thought. (Sound of choir: KING looks out to Cathedral. During this speech we see shots of Notre-Dame.) Out there is the old form, all over France, in every city, there stand cathedrals like this one, triumphant monuments of the past. They tower over the forms of our people like mighty guardians, keeping alive the invincible faith of the Christians. Every arch, every column, every statue is a carved leaf out of our history, a book of stone, glorifying the spirit of France. The cathedrals are the handwriting of the past; the press is of our time. And I won’t do anything to stop it, Frollo.

FROLLO: Sire, we must break the press and hang the printer, for between them they will destroy our old and holy order!

KING: Oh, no, I’m not such a fool.

FROLLO: I for my part will protect France from these printed books as I will protect her from witches, sorcerers and Gypsies, the foreign race that is overrunning all of Europe.


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