Features

The Internet is not just a privilege--it's a necessity

Bryan Mercer, Media Mobilizing Project

The Internet as a Universal Service, the Conservative and Corporate Backlash, and the Struggle Over How We Communicate.

For the past month the most important telecommunications platform of our time, the Internet, has gone without any form of regulation or government oversight. This situation didn't cause some downward spiral collapsing email and leading to tolls for visiting pages across the web - thank goodness. But, after the ruling in the Comcast Bit Torrent case an opening was presented for Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to brush off government authority. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn't have the authority to impose regulation on ISPs. If this situation sticks ISPs have clearly stated what they intend to do - charge whatever they like for any content they like, while limiting traffic for those who don't pay high premiums.

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From the blog

RTM joins Hispanic Media Coalition to urge official review of media hate speech

This week, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed comments (pdf) in the FCC's proceeding on the Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age. Joined by 32 national and regional organizations from throughout the country, the comments ask the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to examine hate speech in media.

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From the blog

Understanding the FCC's broadband debate

Harold Feld from Public Knowledge provides a great summary of the FCC's proposed broadband reclassification, the positives and negatives from a public interest perspective, and the likely fight that likes ahead.

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From the blog

A win for an open Internet: Genachowski lays out new plan to protect broadband rights

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his intention to reassert the FCC's authority to protect broadband consumers' rights, including net neutrality. The Chairman's full statement is here (pdf).

The move comes two weeks after a federal appeals court decision (Comcast vs.FCC) undermined the legal basis under which the FCC had sought to prevent Internet companies from blocking access to websites; and one week after a room full of folks in Seattle resoundingly told FCC that net neutrality oversight was needed to preserve an open Internet.

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Broadband change we can believe in--or deja vu all over again?

Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media

UPDATE: Your phone calls and emails to the FCC appear to have had an effect: Chairman Genachowski reportedly plans to announce Thursday morning a new strategy for asserting authority to protect broadband consumer rights. Stay tuned!

Ever get that feeling, like it's deja vu all over again?

When the FCC held a public hearing on media consolidation in Seattle two years ago, over 1100 people turned out to deliver a clear message: don't let big media get any bigger. But just days afterwards, then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin informed the readers of the New York Times that he planned to go ahead with plans to dismantle more of the rules protecting media diversity.

Now, days after Seattle urged the FCC to affirm its authority to protect broadband users from corporate content-blocking, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski appears to be backtracking from his stated support for strong net neutrality rules. Read more for details and take action!

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From the blog

Free online tools can be used to win political campaigns: Sol Villarreal

“I was a field organizer for Obama up in Ohio for the general election and more recently I was the volunteer coordinator for the McGinn campaign for Mayor. To me, net neutrality really has to do with access to information and access to the ability to organize information. In Kentucky they made me the volunteer coordinator for out of state volunteers. Basically, using a Google spreadsheet we organized close to 1,500 volunteers to come to Kentucky from all parts of the country and knock on doors. I realized the power of these completely free online organizing tools and the deeper into the campaign I got the more I realized that this was a political force being run by college students and 20-somethings on laptops using free online tools and sharing information tools. It really stuck with me. The ability of people to organize themselves and how that affects their ability to access power. That to me is what net neutrality means.”

-- Sol Villarreal, Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of the Mayor, City of Seattle, comments to the FCC on preserving a fair and open Internet, Seattle 27 April 2010

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From the blog

Open internet is crucial for the survival of alternative media: Jerome Edge

"I just wanted to stress, from my standpoint as a community broadcaster, why I feel things like free and open internet and independent sources of communication, be it community radio, are incredibly important... What would happen is that you’d have members of our community that would come out and pour their hearts out about how upset they were about [Glenn Beck receiving the key to Mount Vernon, WA]. How they pleaded and begged with the Mayor of Mount Vernon not to go through with this. But do you think these mainstream media outlets showed this information? They didn’t. Unfortunately, what happened in this mainstream media circus is that our community was painted in a light that 95% of the people who live there don’t really agree with. At the station, we heard from people all around the world that wanted to know what’s going on, what’re you guys thinking, in Mount Vernon and due to those really smart people who found us through internet searches.... The people who took the time to look through and see those alternative sources of information were able to be enlightened and informed about what was really up with what we call home.”

--Jerome Edge, host and producer of Massive Mix Session on KSVR in Mt. Vernon, WA, speaking to the FCC about preserving a fair and open Internet, Seattle 27 April 2010

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From the blog

We build game-changing communities with Open Internet: Rahwa Habte

"My sister and I own and operate a small business in Seattle’s Central District. The area that our restaurant's located in is relatively low-income and relatively high pockets of refugees and immigrants surround the area. I use the internet in every single aspect of what I do. I’m able to be creative and find ways around a lot of challenges that I face. The way that we are changing our community is through art and through music. We’ve become very well known, through the internet, locally and nationally - even internationally. We’ve been able to connect with artists and organizers all over the United States and other countries. It’s very important that we have an open and free way to do that - freedom of exchange of art and ideas through the internet. We’ve built lasting relationships and we’ve changed lots of young people’s lives. We’ve changed the game in Seattle by accessing the internet.”

-- Rahwa Habte, owner of Hidmo Eritrean Restaurant in Seattle, comments to the FCC on preserving a fair and open Internet, Seattle 27 April 2010

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From the blog

An open Internet is vital for community organizing: Joe Mirabella

"I volunteered for the Approve Ref. 71 campaign, which approved domestic partnerships in Washington State. We used social media, Facebook and Twitter extensively, to communicate with families and communities about our campaign-—unfettered access to these technologies was essential to this effort. I cannot imagine how he would have communicated if there had been a tiered system of who could get access to Facebook or other sites by paying a premium. We need to continue open access. This is very important for the LGBT community and every group fighting for access."

-- Joe Mirabella, blogger and community organizer, speaking to the FCC on preserving a fair and open Internet, Seattle, 27 April 2010.

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From the blog

Local communities need an open Internet: Dennis Lane

"We are rapidly approaching a second dark age. The first was brought about in the 14th century when monasteries sequestered information. Internet companies are now doing the same. As communities, we need to have our voices. A voiceless community can become a violent one, when people feel they're not being heard. As a former bar owner, I know! As it stand now in most places, the industry is coming together with only a couple of broadband players--not enough diversity. We need community broadcasting, we need policies that encourage new last mile entities at the local level. With such policies, we will see innovation increasing, and local communications. We know that the big guys will always have their share of the marketplace. But without diversity, innovation will be wasted. There will remain a lot of hopelessness within local communities. So don't put us on that path."

-- Dennis Lane, Whatcom Community Television, speaking to the FCC on preserving a fair and open Internet, Seattle, 27 April 2010.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. - John Dewey