Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the Recess

An awesome new site just launched, called The site is a collection of a group of internet celebrities (like the Tron Guy) talking about net neutrality.  Scoop's weird sometimes, so I can't embed the videos into this post, but you should check out the geeky and loveable internet culture defending itself from net neutrality.

Who would you rather trust on the basics of the internet?  Verizon lobbyists?  Or a computer geek who dresses up as Tron in his spare time?  (Well he's actually not Tron, he's a routine debugging program, but oh now I'm ashamed of myself for worshipping at the altar of internet celebrity....)


I stepped away from the Lieberman-Lamont race to do some research on net neutrality.  Here's the deal.  Ted Stevens wants his bill, and he's pushing like crazy to get it.  It's going to be very hard for him to lobby Senators during the August recess, so he's looking to sign up 60 Senators who will commit to cloture during the lame duck session before the recess starts.  In case you're wondering, that's unusual and somewhat sleazy.

The August recess starts Thursday, so we've got to put some heat on wavering Senators to make sure they don't commit to Stevens.

Rumors are flying about what Stevens is promising different Senators for their support, and we're not quite sure who he's going after specifically to convert.  Here's a list of the Democrats who haven't taken a firm position on the Stevens bill, according to Save the Internet.

Please call these Senators and ask them to oppose the Stevens bill unless it contains strong provisions protecting net neutrality.  And report back in the comments if you hear something interesting.

Akaka, Daniel K. (D-HI)             

Baucus, Max (D-MT)             

Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM)             

Byrd, Robert C. (D-WV)             

Carper, Thomas (D-DE)             

Chafee, Lincoln D. (R-RI)        

Conrad, Kent (D-ND)             

Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL)        

Gregg, Judd (R-NH)             

Harkin, Tom (D-IA)             

Jeffords, James M. (I-VT)        

Johnson, Tim (D-SD)             

Kennedy, Edward M. (D-MA)        

Kohl, Herb (D-WI)             

Landrieu, Mary (D-LA)             

Levin, Carl (D-MI)             

Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR)             

Menendez, Robert (D-NJ)             

Murray, Patty (D-WA)             

Reed, Jack (D-RI)             

Salazar, Ken (D-CO)             
202 224-5852

Sarbanes, Paul S. (D-MD)        

Schumer, Charles (D-NY)             

Stabenow, Debbie A. (D-MI)      

Talent, Jim (R-MO)             

Tags: net neutrality, Ted Stevens, telecom (all tags)



In Minnesota, Mark Dayton (D) and Norm Coleman (R)

...haven't taken a position on "Net Neutrality," either.

Minnesotans should phone their offices and leave a message that they should support the hold on the Telecommunications Bill until tough "Net Neutrality" laws are added:

Call Senator Dayton at 202-224-3244.

Call Senator Coleman at 202-224-5641.

by EricJaffa 2006-08-01 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Ted Stevens go home

The last time he and Cantwell tangled on the Anwar Drilling I do believe that Stevens beligerantly said he was going home he was just so disgusted with Congress...maybe this round he'll be defeated and go home for good. His road rage tactics on net neutrality make him a good candidate not for the Senate but for a padded cell.

by mainsailset 2006-08-01 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update

I wrote to Conrad when the bill was in committee. Got the classic non-answer answer. To paraphrase, "some folks say this is bad but others don't. I will keep your thoughts in mind." At least he didn't add, "remember to vote for me this november" on the end.

by writerofag 2006-08-01 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update:

I called Sarbanes' office, told a staffer how I felt. I'm told they're getting a lot, mostly in favor of the bill, but that the senator hasn't made up his mind yet. I ended by saying that if he still wasn't sure, he certainly couldn't sign on to Stevens' bill, sleazy as it was...

Staffer agreed, but halfheartedly. Keep those calls coming!

by Lefty Minion 2006-08-01 11:21AM | 0 recs
Thoughts for your Calls: Level Playing Field

The primary justification for not having "Network Neutrality" is so that vendors can differentiate content based on how "important" it is.  This is often called "Quality of Service" and measures for requesting this sort of stuff is quite established (RFC 1349), and maturing (RFC 2474).  These specifications define a portion of each Internet packet that specifies how "important" the packet is, it's so-called "Traffic Class" (IPv6) or "Type of Service" (IPv4).  Not only is differentiation of packets based on this service-level a good idea, it has been standardized.

What is important in Network Neutrality legislation is to ensure that Internet providers do not discriminate based on: (a) the type of content sent, or (b) the sender and/or receiver.  What sort of discrimination should be permitted, however, is a differentiation of "quality of service" depending on what the sender/receiver has paid for: with the same rates applying across all of their customers.  Hence, the legislation in this area should permit technical advancement in mechanism to partition service based on quality -- but not innovations which extract monopoly rent from particularly lucrative customers and/or content types (or unfavored customers and/or content types).

A good analogy is sending first-class mail via USPS, the price is the same no matter where the destination is and regardless of what the letter in the envelope says.  The "common carrier" doesn't open up letters to see if there is a check/cash inside, and charge a 1% fee for sending monetary instruments.  The USPS doesn't differentiate between Joe or Martha in line, play political favoritism, or deliver particular customer's mail faster than others, etc.   What USPS does differentiate on is the size of the content sent (ie, number of letters) and on the speed of delivery -- you can get 2nd day overnight, etc.   The point is, all businesses and content are equal from the point of view of the mail carrier.  So too should the transmission of internet packets be neutral to the sender/receiver and the actual message sent.

By fighting that all packets are equal is a losing (and wrong headed) battle.  What is important is that we fight for democracy on the Internet: Vonage should get the same quality of service per dollar as AT&T VoIP services and even completely unrelated content, such as Google searches.  What is being sent and by whom should be forbidden from the price/quality curve - but there should be a curve.

The internet now already supports differentiated treatment of packets based on Quality of Service; the Internet specifications and many implementations already do this.  While service providers may not charge more for "faster" packets, you can mark packets for special treatment and they usually do go faster (at least in many corporate networks).  This is an essential feature.  Certain information I'd like to have delivered to me "off peak" so to speak, when the internet is not being used (say at 4:43AM).  Other chunks I need delivered now.

What is being sold is "faster access" largely through quality of service "improvements". This is the straw-man that Ted Stevens and company talk about.  The problem is, it really isn't the core issue.

The core requirement of "net neutrality" is that a level playing field is maintained, that is, both you and I are treated equally regardless of who we are and what sort of content we are sending.   This is the true-test and one that Libertarians and Small Business people can grok.   If companies discriminate based on who you are, or what you are sending, then they will stifle innovation and competition.  However, those same people will see no inherent problem with paying more for faster service.

What I'm saying is... call the straw man out.  It is classic bait-and-switch.  They are selling "faster access" but what they are proposing to deliver is a non-level playing field where some get preferential treatment.  That is fundamentally unfair.   But, make it clear that "faster access", aka, differentiation based on Quality of Service is possible without undermining the level playing field.

by ubulgaria 2006-08-01 11:47AM | 0 recs
There is a quality-of-service clause in the

...Snowe-Dorgan "Internet Freedom Preservation Act," S. 2917.  They can prioritize if they aren't charging website owners for the prioritization. 09:.temp~c109xOX9Bp

`(5) only prioritize content, applications, or services accessed by a user that is made available via the Internet within the network of such broadband service provider based on the type of content, applications, or services and the level of service purchased by the user, without charge for such prioritization; and

by EricJaffa 2006-08-01 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update:

I called Durbin's office in Chicago, told them to support net neutrality.  Just got the polite receptionist, of course.  Then sent an e-mail asking him to defeat the Stevens bill.  We'll see.

by Maven 2006-08-01 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update:

Defending itself from Net Neutrality? Please change that... the issue's confusing to enough people without mydd helping!

by Matt in VA 2006-08-01 12:13PM | 0 recs
Called Sen. Murray's office

and they asked for the bill number, and I felt like an idiot when I didn't know. I'd love for the bill no. (when there is one), or the formal title of the bill (when there is one) to be with all of the phone numbers in these 'get out the calls' posts.

by sherrold 2006-08-01 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

Senator Harkin's office said today that he does not support Steven's bill.

by Susan in Iowa 2006-08-01 12:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

My Dad (in Michigan) says he wrote Stabenow and Levin - he gave me the impression that Stabenow punted (form letter perhaps), and Levin expressed support for net neutrality.  I asked him to write specifically in reference to the Snowe-Dorgan amendment a couple weeks ago, so I presume Levin's expression of support was in reference to that.

I did not see the response myself, so I can't be 100% certain he wasn't using a politco-speak non-answer answer.

If you're calling Levin or Stabenow do make sure to mention the Google office moving into the Ann Arbor area and how new tech jobs could impact the (currently stinky) enconomy of Michigan.

by fwiffo 2006-08-01 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

Thanks for the info.  I've already sent both Stabenow and Levin a fax asking them to support nothing less than the Snowe-Dorgan bill's level of protections for Net Neutrality, but got bupkis for a response.

Looks like I make follow-up calls tomorrow.

by RayneToday 2006-08-01 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

Called Jeffords office and the guy I spoke with said Jeffords is very much in favor of net neutrality and opposes the Stevens bill.

by SteveinVT 2006-08-01 12:56PM | 0 recs
Kennedy's office not so swift on the uptake

I got an intern who told me that he had no idea what Kennedy's stance was because they hadn't voted yet.

We dicussed that for a while (with examples of senators who had in fact figured out what they thought about net neutrality before voting), and then the guy took my zip code and hopefully copied down a comment about not helping Ted Stevens.

Normally I skip these call lists because my Massachusetts legislators are ahead of the game -- but this time it sounds like Kennedy's office could use a little help...

Calling all Mass constituents!  Write or call Kennedy!

by Kathy Paur 2006-08-01 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Kennedy's office not so swift on the uptake

And offer yourself as a better informed intern.  Sheesh!

by brahn 2006-08-01 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

We have to stress that Senators need to not only vote against passage of the bill, but also vote against cloture.

No half measures.

by beemer 2006-08-01 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Net Neutrality Update: The Pounding Before the

Senator Stevens' telecommunications bill is S. 2686. had some good suggested language for a call, though at present we need to add a request to vote against cloture on the bill as well:

I urge the Senator to protect Net Neutrality, which prevents the largest phone and cable companies from turning the Internet into their private tollway. I urge the Senator to vote NO on Senator Stevens' telecommunications bill (S. 2686) unless real Net Neutrality language is added that prohibits network operators from discriminating against content and creating a tiered Internet.

by Redshift 2006-08-02 09:21AM | 0 recs


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