April 27, 2006
Corporate whores in Congress have
officially inaugurated the process of turning the internet into another
platform for ephemeral junk culture, an interactive version of television
where there are 500 channels and nothing on.
“Internet carriers, including AT&T Inc.,
have been strident supporters of upending the Internet’s tradition of
network neutrality and have lobbied Congress to make it happen. They
argue that Web sites, particularly those featuring video and audio that
require significant bandwidth, should be able to pay extra so that users
don’t have to wait as long for downloads,” reports the
San Francisco Chronicle. “Internet
carriers say they would use the money they earn to expand the Internet’s
I suppose this would operate the same way
multinational oil corporations use their massive profits to search for new
oil reserves or expand refining capacity.
“By a 34-22 vote, members of the House
Energy and Commerce Committee rejected a Democratic-backed Net
neutrality amendment that also enjoyed support from Internet and
software companies including Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google,” writes
Declan McCullagh for CNET News.
the early 90s, I was drawn to the internet primarily because it was a
decentralized communication medium born as a “neutral network,” that is to
say no one interest or body controlled the entire network or even large
“When Tim Berners-Lee started to sell the
idea of a ‘World Wide Web’, he did not need to seek the approval of
network owners to allow the protocols that built the internet to run,”
Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at
Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society.
“Likewise, when eBay launched its auction
service, or Amazon its bookselling service, neither needed the
permission of the telephone companies before those services could take
off. Because the internet was ‘end-to-end’, innovators and users were
free to offer new content, new applications or even new protocols for
communication without any permission from the network.
So long as these new applications obeyed
simple internet protocols (’TCP/IP’), the internet was open to their
ideas. The network did not pick and choose the applications or content
it would support; it was neutral, leaving that choice to the users.”
Congress, as a craven and slavish handmaid to
corporate interests and domination, is in the process of squashing internet
neutrality. It’s all about control and corporate centralization, not
innovation and expanding capacity. It’s about making sure the internet
serves the commercial and political purposes of large corporations. It’s
also about locking the alternative media out of the only effective medium it
has at its disposal. If you doubt this, see if you can find a truth movement
channel on one of your 500 cable television channels.
Once upon a time, television was considered part of the public commons and
its signal was transmitted over airwaves owned by the people. It was stolen
and hopes dashed in short order by private and corporate interests many
Even the charade of noblesse oblige—or corporate
broadcasters pretending to be trustees obliged to protect what the people
own, or think they own—is long gone and the Fairness Doctrine is dead as
well, killed by “deregulation” (an excuse for theft by corporate leviathans)
under Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.
In fact, the airwaves have become, like virtually everything else of value,
a “raw commodity for financial speculation,” as David Bollier writes.
Public access television—an arrangement made between mega-corporations and
the public when the medium was handed over by thieves and charlatans
operating out of the whorehouse on the Potomac—is now an endangered species.
Senate Bill 1349 and House Bill 3146 endeavored to eliminate local cable
television franchises, long considered an “obstacle” by massive telecoms.
If you don’t believe there will be a repeat of
this in regard to the internet, I have a bridge to sell you.
“Broadband providers now have the same
authority as cable providers to act as gatekeepers: the network owner
can choose which services and equipment consumers may use,” explains
John Windhausen, Jr.
“Network operators can adopt conflicting and
proprietary standards for the attachment of consumer equipment, can
steer consumers to certain web sites over others, can block whatever
Internet services or applications they like, and make their preferred
applications perform better than others…. open broadband networks are
vitally important to our society, our future economic growth, our
high-tech manufacturing sector, and our First Amendment rights to
information free of censorship or control. Even if an openness policy
imposes some slight burden on network operators, these microeconomic
concerns pale in comparison to the macroeconomic benefits to the society
and economy at large of maintaining an open Internet.”
In the future, we may be relegated to the “slow
lane” (no video or audio), or locked out entirely if a telecom disagrees
with our content. Free expression of ideas, especially ideas contrary to
those of the neolib global elite and transnational corporations, are now at
risk more than ever.
It should be remembered that corporatism is essentially fascism, as the
grand daddy of fascism, Benito Mussolini, long ago explained. Fascists not
only favor and enforce censorship—ultimately they violently suppress all
In the not too distant future, as the internet becomes yet another tawdry
and dumbed-down consumerist venue surrounded by lawyers and gun turrets, we
may be reduced to handing out our content via DVD on street corners.
Of course, this will be defined as terrorism and we will be punished