The Battle to Access Information Online

There is a silent battle occurring in Washington, D.C., over our ability to freely access and exchange information through our last unbiased medium, the Internet. The telecom industry is feverishly buying up policy-makers in an attempt to block new, unanimously approved FCC regulations on Internet service providers.

The new plan would ensure Internet users' equal rights to its content, while prohibiting broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from selectively blocking or slowing content and discriminating against competitors.

In retribution, the big telecom interests are sending a message using their highest paid member of Congress, Sen. John McCain, to submit the Internet Freedom Act, which is anything but. The act states the FCC "shall not propose, promulgate or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services."

So the FCC would not be allowed to be the FCC, giving service-providers freedom to control, without checks, any and all bandwidth, connection speed, content and applications.

Misleading policy makers and scare tactics should be ignored. FCC regulations would only affect the big Telecom interests and not the Internet itself. Opponents mistakenly claim regulations might slow innovation. Does this include censoring, blocking or stifling applications such as VoIP, Google Voice and legal peer-to-peer networking applications by companies such as AT&T and Comcast? Regulation preventing such acts, according to a number of studies, will not only lower prices and guarantee higher performance overall, but open the web to more users - allowing people to share ideas and programs and accelerating innovation and investment. AT&T's own two year experiment in 2006 with neutrality rules brought about greater increases in investment than any other ISP in America.

What deregulation means to these companies are not freedoms from some fictitious dictatorial power but immunity from having to answer for their own irresponsible and inevitably oppressive actions. What has deregulation really given us, besides robbing us of laws designed to protect the environment, worker safety and consumer rights?

This post from Michael A. Burger was originally a letter-to-the-editor published in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good