A Neutral Net Will Save The Watchdogs

    October 17, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Something is starkly wrong when diametrically opposed ideologues join hands in public to protest something else. That something wrong, in a nutshell: the government and communications companies working in concert to erode the freedoms that made our country great.

When we were kids, we were sold on an ideal, and it was that ideal that made us love where we lived. The American Dream is living up to its name as we grow up to understand those ideals are washing away in the name of corporate governance, just like Santa Claus.

And the one, essential person sworn to uphold the document that freed us from tyranny and set in place safeguards for watchdogs, along with his administration, are actively chipping away at those cornerstones, while showing loyalty to money, not to the people.

How many times did Verizon turn over our phone records to the Justice Department? At least 720 times since 2005. Next it’s marketers, apparently, unless you opt out.

And AT&T? Who knows how much information was unconstitutionally handed over from the little room set aside for the NSA at corporate HQ?

While they cry immunity, and while Congress mulls legislation keeping them immune from lawsuits set in motion by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU, they also make free-market arguments to further develop a broadband and wireless market that is very much not free.

Competition is blocked at every turn because they don’t want competition in the wireless or broadband space, and are willing to sell you out to keep competition out of it.

Worse, so is your government. The DOJ thinks Net Neutrality is unnecessary. Besides, how else will they be able to sniff your data packets if ISPs aren’t allowed to differentiate? The FCC is almost desperate not to anger the incumbents, but doesn’t want to make the citizens angry either. So they sit on their hands instead of act.

Meanwhile the biggest players in the space continue to prove the point of Net Neutrality proponents by acting as information gatekeepers. Verizon offers the most recent proof by preventing NARAL Pro-Choice America from sending text messages, thanks to "a dusty internal policy."

This disturbed even the Christian Coalition, who co-authored an op-ed piece with NARAL – their ideological enemy – speaking out against censorship. They conclude together:

If corporations can’t tell Americans what to say on a phone call, they shouldn’t be able to control content or tell us what to say in a text message, an e-mail or anywhere else.

That’s something all Americans — regardless of their political views — can agree on.

Luckily, Senator Dorgan is calling for hearings about cell phone censorship.

"This, to me, is yet another example of a gatekeeper controlling the content of the network," said Sen. Dorgan, in a statement. "I would like the Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on this issue of discrimination and further explore what I see as a clear and imminent problem."

But, unfortunately, that’s not all. The House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday that would protect bloggers, much the way the mainstream press is protected (well, sort of – didn’t work for a certain New York Times reporter I can think of) from having to reveal their sources.

President Bush said he would veto the legislation in the name of, you can probably guess by now, "national security."

What he means by that: the security of the government and corporations to do whatever they please, constitutionally questionable or not. Freedom of the press was set up to protect whistleblowers, and if the President was familiar with the document he swore to uphold, he would know that.

Bloggers and freedom of the press have never been more important than they are in this time of conglomerate-owned media, which feeds us the latest Paris Hilton exploit rather than information that could affect company objectives. Without bloggers, the New Media, and proper protection there will be no whistleblowers left.

And that’s exactly what the corporate government wants.