Ten Days Ago, These Six Democrats Took a Sledgehammer to the Internet

About ten days ago, the House Telecom Subcommittee voted down strong net neutrality protection, thus paving the way for telecom companies to become gatekeepers of the internet and deliver web pages at different speeds based on who pays more.  This is a serious problem, because it means anyone with a web page may soon have to pay each telecom company separately to have their web page delivered reliably to consumers, and consumers will all experience a randomly slower web.  At some point soon, you may be able to access MyDD if you have RCN, but not if you have Comcast.  And if you want video streaming, well, that's extra, because the phone company says so.

Here are the Verizon six:

Eliot Engel: NY-17
Bart Stupak: MI-01
Ed Towns: NY-10
Al Wynn: MD-04
Charlie Gonzales: TX-20
Bobby Rush: IL-01

By the way, you might have noticed that I've added a new tag called 'primary project'.  Use this in your diaries for bad Democrats.

The eight yes votes were Democrats Ed Markey, Rick Boucher, Anna Eshoo, Jay Inslee, John Dingell, Mike Doyle, Frank Pallone, as well as Republican Heather Wilson.  

The other 'no' votes were these Republicans:

Fred Upton, Michigan
Michael Bilirakis, Florida
Cliff Stearns, Florida
Paul E. Gillmor, Ohio
Ed Whitfield, Kentucky
Barbara Cubin, Wyoming
John Shimkus, Illinois
Charles "Chip" Pickering, Mississippi
Vito Fossella, New York
George Radanovich, California
Charles F. Bass, New Hampshire
Greg Walden, Oregon
Lee Terry, Nebraska
Mike Ferguson, New Jersey
John Sullivan, Oklahoma
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
Joe Barton, Texas

There's more...

AOL Censors Email Containing a Link to www.DearAOL.com

I've blogged a lot on AOL's scheme to tax email. It's really about raw control over information flow.

And if you think that the right-wing isn't interested in dominating email communications and cutting off the ability of ordinary Americans to organize without their permission, you haven't watched how they have systematically attempted to control every other communications medium over the last forty years.

And today, AOL blocked email that included a link to www.DearAOL.com, a site contesting AOL's policies.  From a press release today:

AOL is blocking delivery to AOL customers of all emails that include a link to www.DearAOL.com.  Today, after this was discovered, over 150 people who signed a petition to AOL tried sending messages to their AOL-using friends, and received a bounceback message informing them that their email "failed permanently.

...

"The fact is, ISPs like AOL commonly make these kinds of arbitrary decisions - silently banning huge swathes of legitimate mail on the flimsiest of reasons - every day, and no-one hears about it," said Danny O'Brien, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "AOL's planned CertifiedEmail system would let them profit from this power by offering to charge legitimate mailers to bypass these malfunctioning filters."

This is not about profit.  It's not about spam.  It's not about customer service.  It's not even about greed.  It's simply about control.  The execs at AOL are mad that their customers are contesting their decisions, and choose to censor email in response.  

Along with ruining net neutrality, this is just one more way to destroy the internet.  We're going to win, but it's going to be a fight.

There's more...

The Right-wing Seeks to Take Your Internet

You can follow this in detail on Public Knowledge's blog or on the special section of Ed Markey's site dedicated to Net Neutrality.

Remember this interview with Edward Whiteacre, the CEO of SBC Communications?

How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google (GOOG), MSN, Vonage, and others?

How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

There's more...

"Pretty soon sending most e-mail will cost money, but I think that's only right."

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on AOL's proposed email tax.  Basically, AOL has implemented an additional level of filtering on their email so that if you want to pay to avoid their spam filters, you can.  If you don't pay, your email has to go through regular spam filters and it doesn't get an approved watermark.  While the company marketed it as a way to fight unsolicited email, AOL actually admitted that this system doesn't filter spam.  

Now they have been caught lying again.  After pledging that their new system wouldn't change the way email currently works, AOL supporters are now pointing out the truth - this change will make sending email cost money, and they like it that way.

Esther Dyson has an editorial in the New York Times to this effect.

What Goodmail is proposing is a sort of FedEx for e-mail. For a penny or less per message, the sender gets guaranteed delivery for mail and the promise that it will stand out in the user's mailbox. The recipient pays nothing. (Goodmail, of which I am not an investor, has tested its system with the participation of a few companies, including this newspaper.)

Internet service providers like America Online, which receive and process mail in bulk, can share in Goodmail's revenue if they want, as long as they promise to pass the mail to their customers without filtering it for spam. The payment encourages AOL to adopt the service and to display a "certified e-mail" icon to users on each "stamped" message, indicating that the message is wanted and safe.

Esther Dyson is a well-respected technologist, but she's politically naive.  The problem with this egghead techno-utopianists attitude is that they don't realize that the political extremism currently devouring the pursuit of science in this country is also dedicated to destroying the free internet.  Dyson doesn't encounter extremism in her life, so she's treating this like an academic experiment in which groups of competing professors saunter around testing different models for structuring their classes.  Right-wingers dedicate themselves to using people this for cover and then devouring them, a la Colin Powell.  And if you think that the right-wing isn't interested in dominating email communications and cutting off the ability of ordinary Americans to organize without their permission, you haven't watched how they have systematically attempted to control every other communications medium over the last forty years.

If this goes through, gradually we'll see the internet going the way of mass media.  It'll be a system where affluent mass mailers can speak, and other groups - like cancer support groups and new community organizers - can't.

There's more...

AOL's Proposed E-mail Tax, Part II

LET ME REVISE AND EXTEND MATT STOLLER'S ENTRY:

= AOL Trash Talks Cancer Patients Over Opposition to Email Tax =
http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/2/27/2332 38/279

He began:

Email Tax Add to Hotlist

by Matt Stoller, Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:39:52 PM EST

So after writing that last post on AOL's proposed email tax, I reread the article and noticed AOL's dripping derision for the various groups concerned about what this might mean:

   AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham: "There is no substantive news here, just because some disparate groups of advocates have come together for an event reminiscent of the bar scene in the first 'Star Wars' movie."

Better solution: just send AOL an e-mail telling them that you cannot continue using their "service" because you know for sure that you yourself will somehow end up paying the e-mail "tax."

If I had to go to dialup (which is always a reasonable alternative) I would go for something like NetZero (they charge under $10/mo.!):

http://www.netzero.net/

Beware -- AOL uses a proprietary dialup "connectoid," and you may need to some extra work, or get a 'puter pro to return the original normal connectoid to service.

Phone company telephone-integrated DSL services are cheap and 20 times faster than dialup. But they may soon succumb to the China Syndrome.

Read below the jump (or perish).

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Diaries

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