Iowans must vote to protect net neutrality, and to keep it working for everyone

(Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts on federal or state policies. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

The FCC’s landmark decision in February to protect net neutrality was widely heralded as a victory for most Internet users. The Federal Communications Commission even committed to making America’s broadband networks fast, fair, and open. However, as more information became available, it became clear that the FCC’s decision to reclassify the Internet as a depression-era utility would make it anything but fair.

Title II was developed for old communication devices, like telephone networks in the 1930s. This regulatory classification is more than 80 years old, and was never intended for the fast-moving, innovative world of Internet and app infrastructure. Title II will re-classify the Internet as a utility, and increase state and local fees for Internet access. Infrastructure issues, when left to Congress to update, become a part of a slower-moving, bureaucratic structure. Upgrades to the Internet happen much faster than upgrades to roads and bridges; it does not make sense to regulate them the same way.

Instead of making sure that the Internet remained open for all, the FCC’s decision ensured that low-income and underserved Americans will pay higher rates, making the Internet less accessible. Dozens of groups have spoken out about how Title II regulation will be harmful for small businesses, particularly those owned by minority groups. When chambers of commerce and unions agree that something is harmful, it is generally a good sign that it is time to re-think.

Representatives Blum, Loebsack, Young, and King should follow the lead of the diverse coalition that has spoken out against Title II regulation – including the Communications Workers of America, the NAACP, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Urban League, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and dozens more – to draft bipartisan legislation that protects all Internet users from high fees and keeps the Internet truly open.  

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Double Standards! The U.S. on Domestic vs. Global Internet Policy

Just this month, the United States signed on to a Human Rights Council statement praising freedom of expression on the Internet, along with forty other countries across the world. The purpose of the statement is to emphasize how integral modern-day communications technologies are for the promotion of basic human rights. You would naturally expect the United States, leader of the free world, to be a signatory — but can the recent slew of restrictive legislation being pushed through Congress allow the U.S. to support a globally open Internet in good faith??
 
Let’s take a look at the inconsistencies:
  • The HRC statement says: “We consider Government-initiated closing down of the Internet, or major parts thereof, for purposes of suppressing free speech, to be in violation of freedom of expression. In addition, Governments should not mandate a more restrictive standard for intermediaries than is the case with traditional media regarding freedom of expression or hold intermediaries liable for content that they transmit or disseminate.”
  • Yet, Senate Bill 978 — the “Ten Strikes Bill” — would make unlicensed online streaming (by corporations or individual Internet users) a felony punishable by 5 years in prison.

  • The HRC statement continues: “All users, including persons with disabilities, should have greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services, whether or not they are offered free of charge. In this context, network neutrality and openness are important objectives. Cutting off users from access to the Internet is generally not a proportionate sanction.
  • Yet, Senate Bill 968 — the PROTECT IP Act or “Internet Blacklist Bill” — would give the government the power to force Internet service providers, search engines, and other “information location tools” to block users' access to sites that have been accused of copyright infringement.
  • HRC: “For us, one principle is very basic: The same rights that people have offline – freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek information, freedom of assembly and association, amongst others – must also be protected online.”
  • But the Obama administration is facilitating a “three strikes” style deal between Internet Service Providers and intellectual property rights holders to reduce bandwidth and restrict web access to certain sites for users who have been accused of copyright infringement.

If you can’t stand for such hypocrisy on the part of the US government, sign our petitions below:

You can read the full text of the HRC statement here, as well as the UN report on pro-Internet freedom being praised here.

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PIRATE SCHOOL.

It's getting even crazier.

Last night Demand Progress spilled the beans: Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, are planing an Anti-Neutrality policy called the “THREE STRIKES PLAN”. These Internet service providers would restrict web access for users accused of infringement. Check out our link for an overview of the policy and more info.

FIGHT THE AT&T/ COMCAST “THREE STRIKES” CENSORSHIP DEAL.

The MPAA and RIAA have convinced companies like Comcast, AT&T, and others to voluntarily create a “Three Strikes” policy. This means your Internet service provider could respond to online file sharing with censorship tools like the ones outlined on our website.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND TO EMAIL THE HEAD HONCHOS AT AT&T AND COMCAST

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Congresswoman: Feds Could Shut Down Facebook

Did you know that last week during a House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Intellectual Property, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), asserted that DHS and ICE are claiming powers that could shut down Facebook?  

Demand Progress, a Political Action Committee and activist group of nearly 400,000 members, concur: The government is claiming powers that could seize Facebook and prosecute its users just for linking to things.

Check out these key clips of the hearing in our new video: http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/facebook_sign/?source=campaigns

Last month DHS and ICE accidentally seized 84,000 innocent sites.  Over the last several months, DHS has seized at least two dozen domain names on copyright infringement grounds. Earlier this month, DHS and ICE arrested Brian McCarthy for channelsurfing.net, which simply linked to infringing content, but which housed none of its own.  In all these cases, the sites owners weren’t given any prior notice and except for Brian McCarthy, these owners weren’t even given the chance to defend the accusations against them– infringing upon their due process and free speech rights.

Watch the hearing clips and sign our petition to Janet Napolitano, Director of DHS and John Morton, Director of ICE.

Tell them there’s nothing wrong or illegal about posting a link to a website and that it’s obscene to interpret the law in a way that would give them authority to shut down Facebook and sites like it: http://act.demandprogress.org/…

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A new glimpse of the old Leonard Boswell

Iowa Republicans love to bash Leonard Boswell as a “liberal,” but that label is laughable when you examine Boswell’s lifetime voting record in Congress. The Progressive Punch database shows that Boswell currently ranks as the 224th most progressive member of the House of Representatives (near the bottom of the Democratic caucus). Progressive Punch divides Congressional votes into 14 categories, and the highest ranking Bowell has in any category is 174th. In other words, Boswell is less progressive than the average House Democrat on just about any issue. On “crucial votes,” which are decided by a narrow margin in the House, Boswell has voted with progressives only about 65 percent of the time during his Congressional career. (Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack aren’t as liberal as you probably think they are either.)

Progressive Punch scores only take votes into account, but members of Congress can influence policies in other ways too. This week the Savetheinternet.com coalition sent out an action alert:

Seventy-four members of Congress have just signed an industry-drafted letter urging the FCC to abandon efforts to protect Net Neutrality and promote universal broadband access. By signing this letter, these members have sold you out to Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

Click here to read the industry-drafted letter. The savetheinternet.com coalition annotated the letter with background countering many points of “misinformation.” All the House members who signed were Democrats, but Boswell is the only Iowa Democrat on the list. Major players in the telecommunications industry want to undermine the FCC’s authority, and the letter depicts that as needed to secure private investment in expanding broadband networks. Boswell may think he is merely helping his rural constituents get broadband access, but if corporations get their way on this matter, the likely outcome would be a framework allowing internet providers to charge content providers more to have their sites load.

Click here for more background on what net neutrality is and why some corporations want to undermine it. Excerpts:

Net Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.

Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. […]

The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all.

They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. And they want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking services offered by their competitors.

These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of a level playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those of big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road. […]

Net Neutrality has been part of the Internet since its inception. […] And non-discrimination provisions like Net Neutrality have governed the nation’s communications networks since the 1920s.

But as a consequence of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, Net Neutrality — the foundation of the free and open Internet — was put in jeopardy. Now, cable and phone company lobbyists are pushing to block legislation that would reinstate Net Neutrality.

Writing Net Neutrality into law would preserve the freedoms we currently enjoy on the Internet. For all their talk about “deregulation,” the cable and phone giants don’t want real competition. They want special rules written in their favor.

According to the Savetheinternet coalition, Boswell has accepted $53,500 in campaign contributions from telecom companies or their lobbyists during his Congressional career. Please take a moment to contact Boswell at one of his offices or through his official website to urge him to support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458). You can also sign an online petition here.

UPDATE: At Iowa Independent, Adam Sullivan reports that in March, Boswell “held a dinner fundraiser hosted by Lyndon Boozer (a lobbyist for AT&T) and Roger Mott (a lobbyist for Verizon), and a breakfast fundraiser hosted by Louis Dupart (a lobbyist for Verizon).”

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