[NetBehaviour] The Fate of the Internet. Decided in a Back Room. (fwd)
sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jun 23 07:24:02 CEST 2010
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 22:32:47
From: moderator at PORTSIDE.ORG
To: PORTSIDE at LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: The Fate of the Internet. Decided in a Back Room.
The Fate of the Internet. Decided in a Back Room
By Tim Karr
June 22, 2010 by Save the Internet
The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal
Communications Commission is holding "closed-door meetings"
with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality - the rule
that keeps control over the Internet with the people who use
Given that the corporations at the table all profit from
gaining control over information, the outcome won't be
The meetings include a small group of industry lobbyists
representing the likes of AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association, and Google. They reportedly
met for two-and-a-half hours on Monday morning and will
convene another meeting today. The goal according to insiders
is to "reach consensus" on rules of the road for the
This is what a failed democracy looks like: After years of
avid public support for Net Neutrality - involving millions
of people from across the political spectrum - the federal
regulator quietly huddles with industry lobbyists to
eliminate basic protections and serve Wall Street's bottom
We've seen government cater to big business in the same ways,
prior to the BP oil disaster and the sub-prime mortgage
meltdown. The Industry's regulatory capture of the Internet
is now almost complete. The leadership of the one agency
tasked with oversight of communications policy now thinks
they can wriggle free of their obligation to protect the open
Internet if only industry agrees on a solution.
Congress is holding its own series of meetings and, while
they've been ambiguous on the details, many remain skeptical
on whether the process will lead to an outcome that serves
the public interest. After all, this is the same Congress
that is bankrolled by the phone and cable lobby in excess of
Why is this so startling even for the more cynical among us?
The Obama administration promised to embrace a new era of
government transparency. It's the tool we were supposed to
use to pry open policy-making and expose it to the light of
In that spirit, President Obama pledged to "take a backseat
to no one" in his support for Net Neutrality. He appointed
Julius Genachowski to head the FCC -- the man who crafted his
pro-Net Neutrality platform in 2008.
But the mere existence of these private meetings reveals to
us a chairman who has fallen far short of expectations.
Instead Genachowski is shying from the need to fortify the
Internet's open architecture in favor of deals made between
DC power brokers.
These deals will determine who ultimately controls Internet
content and innovation. Will phone and cable companies
succeed in their decade-long push to take ownership of both
the infrastructure of the Internet and the information that
flows across its pipes? Will they cut in a few giant
companies like Google and the recording industry to get their
Whatever the outcome, the public - including the tens of
millions of Americans who use the Internet every day and in
every way - are not being given a seat at the table.
Genachowski's closed-door sessions come after six months of
public comments on whether the agency should proceed with a
rule to protect Net Neutrality.
During that period, more than 85 percent of comments received
by the agency called for a strong Net Neutrality rule. Look
at it this way: If a candidate received more than 85 percent
of the vote, wouldn't she have a mandate to decide on the
In Chairman Genachowski's alternative view of reality,
though, the public is immaterial, and industry consensus
supreme. Timothy Karr oversees all Free Press campaigns and
online outreach efforts, including SavetheInternet.com and
its work on public broadcasting, propaganda, and journalism.
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