Saturday, June 10, 2006

They hate our freedom

House Republicxans vote to paralyze internet
The First Amendment of the Internet – the governing principle of net
neutrality, which prevents telecommunications corporations from rigging
the web so it is easier to visit sites that pay for preferential
treatment – took a blow from the House of Representatives Thursday.

Bowing to an intense lobbying campaign that spent tens of millions of
dollars – and held out the promise of hefty campaign contributions for
those members who did the bidding of interested firms – the House voted
321 to 101 for the disingenuously-named Communications Opportunity,
Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE). That bill, which does not include
meaningful network-neutrality protections creates an opening that
powerful telephone and cable companies hope to exploit by expanding
their reach while doing away with requirements that they maintain a
level playing field for access to Internet sites.

"Special interest advocates from telephone and cable companies have
flooded the Congress with misinformation delivered by an army of
lobbyists to undermine decades-long federal practice of prohibiting
network owners from discriminating against competitors to shut out
competition. Unless the Senate steps in, (Thursday's) vote marks the
beginning of the end of the Internet as an engine of new competition,
entrepreneurship and innovation." says Jeannine Kenney, a senior policy
analyst for Consumers Union.

In case there was any question that Kenney's assessment was accurate,
the House voted 269-152 against an amendment, offered by Massachusetts
Democrat Ed Markey, which would have codified net neutrality regulations
into federal law. The Markey amendment would have prevented broadband
providers from rigging their services to create two-tier access to the
Internet – with an "information superhighway" for sites that pay fees
for preferential treatment and a dirt road for sites that cannot pay the

After explicitly rejecting the Markey amendment's language, which would
have barred telephone and cable companies from taking steps "to block,
impair, degrade, discriminate against, or interfere with the ability of
any person to use a broadband connection to access…services over the
Internet," the House quickly took up the COPE legislation.



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