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(Woops) Telecoms Help Make Case For Neutral Net

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One of the more parroted talking points against Net Neutrality has been verbalized this way: It’s a solution in search of a problem. Rather snide, really, if you think about it, and is a remark that usually accompanies a brush off to concerns of gatekeeper abuses.

As if to ask: "Would we do that to you?"

Maybe it’s because incumbent telecom providers have lost every Net Neutrality argument that they’ve even forsaken the general appearance of "good behavior" for fear of proving the opposition’s points for them.

It’s hard to tell what motivation AT&T and Verizon would have for that. There could be many: they’ve quit arguing and have commenced to doing while they still can; they feel they’ve buried the argument, have won the government, and are therefore immune; or whoever makes and enforces policies isn’t communicating very well the spin-doctors trying sell a much different story.

Who knows? But it wasn’t long ago that the "solution in search of a problem" was relegated to isolated incidents in Canada and Net Neutrality proponents had only fear they could point to. (That wasn’t entirely true, just reviewing – concerned citizens had at least the words from the horse’s mouth to go on…)

Just after AT&T’s Pearl Jam fiasco, where a nice proof of concept was exhibited at the expense of Eddie Vedder’s right to speak, Verizon blames "a dusty policy" for disallowing a Pro-Choice group to send text messages across its system.

Regardless of your stance on that volatile matter, that is Verizon deciding who speaks and who doesn’t.

Call it the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Citing these two instances of censorship, as well as Verizon and AT&T’s close relationship with the National Security Agency (remember, the handing over of private citizen phone records?), Free Press is calling for Congressional hearings.

Which of course, we know from how Congress has dealt with both oil companies and juiced-up baseball pros, means a lot. But at least some feet may be held to a gentle candle flame, you know, for five minutes or so.

Oh well, it’s something, right?

"Phone companies are supposed to deliver our messages, not censor them," said Ben Scott, of Free Press, coordinator of SaveTheInternet.com. "If the phone company can’t tell you what to say on a phone call, then they shouldn’t be able to tell you what to say in a text message, an e-mail, or anywhere else. We can’t trust these corporate gatekeepers. Congress needs to step in immediately to safeguard free speech and the free flow of information."

I hope Ben doesn’t go through AT&T for Internet or mobile phone service. According to the company’s latest Terms of Service, they can disconnect you for talking trash about them if they like.

"The censorship policies of AT&T and Verizon are what we can expect to see time and again with these corporations as gatekeepers," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. "Verizon’s text message ban is the same as Comcast blocking our email or AT&T preventing us from making phone calls. We need to put in place laws that protect our right to speak out on the Internet, on cell phones — everywhere."

Sort of seems that way. And sort of seems like they don’t care if it’s obvious anymore or not.

(Woops) Telecoms Help Make Case For Neutral Net
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  • Guest

    Jan 21, 2008

    Shaw customers cannot view TD Bank websites, Shaw has denied their customers the ability to access their money.  What’s next????

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