Net neutrality red herrings and how to combat them

by Joan McCarter, Daily Kos

Rep. Ed Markey had a conference call with bloggers last Friday to talk about his legislation which would "establish overarching national broadband policy and ensures an open and consumer oriented Internet," or codify net neutrality.

In addition:

Markey stressed the importance of fighting "misinformation," invoking death panels and the other red herrings the right wing slung into this summer’s health care debate:

As you all know, a lot is being written and said about what open Internet requirements would mean for broadband investment innovation and consumers. [...]

It’s almost as though some people want to have their own equivalent of "death panels" that we had in the health care debate back in August. That was a red herring that took us off the main point of providing health care to everyone, for a month or six weeks. Now we’ve got that straightened out, but we have to battle hard to make sure the misinformation is responded and responded to in a very brief period of time.

There will be a tremendous astroturfing campaign against both Markey's legislation and the FCC's comment period during its rulemaking process in Net Neutrality. There are a couple of things the netroots community needs to do in response. First, contact your representative and ask him or her to cosponsor H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. Strong support from Congress will bolster the FCC's rulemaking effort. Additionally, pushing the legislation is important because having the rules codified would mean that the next Republican administration and Republican-dominated FCC wouldn't be able to rescind the rules.

Additionally, you can comment in support of the FCC rule that would establish Net Neutrality at the new FCC blog set up at In doing so, be sure to note a deficiency in the proposed rule highlighted by a group of Net Neturality proponents, including Tim Wu, chair of the public interest group Free Press and other public policy professors. Tim Karr at Save the Internet explains the issue:

The professors are concerned with the contradictory and unclear definitions of key terms that are at the heart of the proposed Net Neutrality rules.

Without clear and reliable definitions of "non-discrimination" and "reasonable network management," we could see the types of blocking that occurred in 2007 when Comcast secretly barred customers from using file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent.

Allowing ISPs this much leeway would effectively eliminate Net Neutrality. The rules need to be unambiguous and strong, the scholars write. And even now, at the beginning of the process, the FCC should be clear as to what it believes the standards should be.

This is a critical loophole for the FCC to close in their final rule, which they probably get having received the message from Professor Wu and his colleagues. But the netroots piling on to close the loophole and in strong support of a final rule that will "keep control over Internet content in the hands of Internet users," as Tim Karr says.

article originally published at Daily Kos.

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