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FCC Hearing Monday in Boston: Future of the Internet

February 21st, 2008 by Dean Jansen

This Monday, February 25th
11 AM – 4 PM
Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School
1515 Mass Ave.
(map)

If you’re in Boston, come and show your support for free speech!

The Federal Communications Commission will be holding a rare public hearing regarding their investigations into internet companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. All of these companies have been caught filtering their customers’ internet and/or text message traffic.

Recently, Comcast has been aggressively filtering the Bittorrent protocol. This activity really hurts an organization like Democracy Now!, because they rely on the low cost of peer to peer file sharing to distribute their news program in high-resolution. Comcast, as a cable provider, has a financial incentive to push competition off their network.

More importantly, it’s not just Bittorrent that is at stake — if we let Comcast and other internet providers get away with this behavior, it opens the door to lots of other anti-competitive tactics. This decision will be central in deciding whether we end up with an internet that is open and democratic, or one that is closed and controlled by a few massive corporations.

We are working with Free Press (they run the savetheinternet.com) to organize technical demonstrations. Free Press will also be shooting video testimonials from the general public, which will be submitted to the FCC as formal comments.

If you’re in the Boston area, we would LOVE to have you drop by, even if you can’t stay long. Make sure you find me and say hi!

For more information, including a more detailed agenda, please visit http://www.savetheinternet.com/=boston.

9 Responses to “FCC Hearing Monday in Boston: Future of the Internet”

  1. 54 million disabled people find the electronic media to be exclusionary and failing to support our need for accessability. We are not represented fairly in their hiring, management or ownership. As a result, the programming content selected by such companies has been a source of many stereotypes about disability and the disabled, and has not served us well and fails to provide any of the news, information, education and entertainment that is capable of addressing our interests.

    Disabled content producers and subscribers depend on the Internet if we are to have any hope of participating in media of our own. Our social movement, civil and human rights struggle for social inclusion has been ignored by the conventional media. Four decades since our social movements began in the ’60′s we are only now beginning to hear our voices rising — via the Internet. It seems obvious that with our first tentative steps it would not be in our interest to surrender this ‘digital commons’ to uncaring corporate commercial interests.

    The telephone and cable network monopolies have already demonstrated to us how they use their non-competitive advantages — it has not been to improve services to disabled customers. They invest in lobbying against enforcement of US laws requiring them to provide accessibility (Section 255 of the Telecom Act — providing for ‘reasonable accomodation’ of people with disabilities). As a result, a person like myself that is visually impaired (about 22 million), cannot use the settop boxes and interactive services which fail to provide any ‘reasonable accommodation’. Their web-based services and websites are also inaccessible — in violation of international Internet 2.0 standards and, in violation of US law (Title 2 of the ADA.) In any event it is rude and inconsiderate — not the kind of people you would trust to look out for the publi’c best interests.

    As the USA is rated 17th in the world for telecommunications infrstructure and services and their is no evidence of this industry having any plans or initiatives currently underway to address the needs of disabled people with regard to improving our access to the critical resources of the Internet, they should be banned from having any role with regard to its operation or regulation. To be of benefit to people with disabilities, the Internet should remain a public commons and a free forum for all who wish to participate. The monopolies that are in the business of provisioning and operating broadband networks should be restricted from any involvement in regulating what content or services the customers receive.

    With the high degree of commercialization of broadcast radio, TV, cable, satellite and the consolidation of newspapers in the hands of a select few, it is obvious that there needs to be a counterbalance in the marketplace. The Internet has been the safety valve for all who are disenfranchised by the ignorance and predjudice of the corporate elites who’s cultural viewpoints have dominated all media. The total exclusion of such a vast community as the 54 million disabled people in the US suggests that the only acceptable ‘reasonable accomodation’ is our independence from corporate control.

    FCC Commissioners must do the right thing and bar the telephone and cable companies from controlling our broadband networks.

  2. FCC Forum on ISP Traffic Management…

    Speaking of the Cablecos and their bandwidth, the FCC’s open forum on traffic management starts today in Harvard. Speakers will include representatives from Comcast and Verizon, U.S. Rep Ed Markey of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, and Profess…

  3. Mike says:

    Please let us know what conclusions, if any, were drawn.

  4. [...] DailyKOS broke this story, here’s a quote: This is pretty unbelievable— there was an FCC hearing about Net Neutrality in Harvard yesterday where we had a booth. Comcast was PAYING PEOPLE TO FILL UP SEATS AND CHEER FOR THEM. Tons of folks, [...]

  5. [...] is pretty unbelievable— there was an FCC hearing about Net Neutrality in Harvard yesterday where we had a booth. Comcast was PAYING PEOPLE TO FILL UP SEATS AND CHEER FOR THEM. Tons of folks, [...]

  6. Meneer R says:

    Don’t be dramatic. Future of the internet in the USA.

    Honestly, I don’t understand how this could be possible in the first place.
    Can’t you get your broadband from somewhere else?

    I can choose out of three different cables, of which at least one (the phone cable) is -free-for-all- (so about a dozen companies) and about 5 different wireless operators. The providers here spent millions in court just to prevent having to turn over somebody’s ip. Not out of ethics or anything like that. They just assume we are no idiots and can and will switch.

    Publicly stating you want to control the content is ehm .. hilarious. How can they possible have any customers?

    Anyways, this is _not_ the future of the internet. For one, the united states is just some country and is not very likely to play en equally dominant role in the future. Secondly this is just some provider with either no sense or a monopoly. In both cases, it can not and will not become a trend.

  7. Alice Lee says:

    Here’s the problem: Comcast takes the same approach to public debate that it has to Internet access: that it can wield substantial political and market power to shut out debate and shut up people. For too long, communications policymaking has been rigged against us. We need to send a wakeup call to phone and cable giants and their powerful lobbyists that they will no longer set the agenda. Check out this new video we just released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYGtNmmb2y0

    The purpose of the Internet is to give power over information to everyone. The role of our elected leaders is to protect our basic right to communicate from those who want to take it away from us. Whether it’s on the Internet or at public hearings we must stand up for everyone’s right to connect.

  8. big trouble says:

    Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Money does not grow on trees. When too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. A total collapse of the US economy. Probably within a decade. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Please copy this entry and run it by any professor of socio-economics. I speak the truth. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE. Please copy and help spread the word. If we can’t learn to tell the difference between truth and lie. Greed and generosity. Good will and PR crap. Then we are doomed. STOP SUPPORTING THE RICH. DON’T USE THE CREDIT CARDS. DON’T BUY THE TICKETS, DVDS, JERSIES, PHARMACEUTICALS, MAGAZINES, OR ANY OTHER OVER-PRICED CRAP. We need to stop supporting high profit low labor industry and support more low profit high labor industry. This is the only way to secure jobs and prosperity for all.

  9. Carlo says:

    thanks for the post. i hope to read some more.
    Best regards from Sebbi