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Media Alert: Internet Neutrality Battle Continues

March 30, 2010

The following Media Alert is from the group Free Press.

Phone and cable lobbyists have flooded the FCC with fiction about Net Neutrality. They continue to recycle old rhetoric that Free Press and others have repeatedly debunked. Show the FCC that you don’t buy these bogus claims — and why they shouldn’t either.

Fiction: “The government wants to become the Web’s traffic cop, shutting down free speech online.”

Before the FCC decided to pursue Net Neutrality protections, Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck warned his audience that the government was “trying to take over the media.” Beck later said that Net Neutrality would “wildly affect your life and free speech” by forcing a “Marxist utopia” on the Internet.

Fact: Net Neutrality ensures everyone has an opportunity to be heard.

The founders of the Internet built it with open standards to ensure that everyone with a connection could communicate with everyone else online. This basic Net Neutrality principle turned the Internet into an essential forum for free speech. Without the FCC stepping in to protect the free-flowing Web, Internet service providers have an incentive to decide whose voices are more important and whose views won’t be heard.

Fiction: “Net Neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.”

Industry front group Americans for Prosperity wrote that there hasn’t been “a single significant incident of egregious behavior” by phone and cable companies,” adding that Net Neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

Fact: The problem is real. The solution is Net Neutrality.

High-profile violations of Net Neutrality include Comcast’s efforts to block popular file sharing applications and Madison River’s blocking of Internet-based telephone services. AT&T has met with motion picture and record industry execs over a proposal to spy on all online communications and throttle those they deem “illegal.” ISPs have also talked about using new discriminatory technology — called deep packet inspection — as a way to filter content and impose new tolls on users.

Fiction: “Net Neutrality will defeat efforts to close America’s digital divide.”

David Sutphen, co-chair of the AT&T-funded Internet Innovation Alliance, says that Net Neutrality is a “distraction” that “only concerns those already online.” Sutphen calls Net Neutrality rules “divisive new regulations,” which could have “unintended consequences” for those seeking to bridge the digital divide.

Fact: Investment increased under Net Neutrality rules

AT&T and Comcast claim that unless they can discriminate online, they won’t be able to close the broadband gap. But history shows otherwise. During the two years that AT&T operated under Net Neutrality rules, required as a condition its merger with BellSouth, the company recorded gross profits of more than $140 billion. In those same years, AT&T invested billions to build out networks and reach new communities. When the Net Neutrality conditions expired, AT&T reduced its investment.

Fiction: “Net Neutrality will undermine innovation and consumer choice”

Rob Atkinson of industry-funded front group ITIF told the FCC that while Net Neutrality advocates “bemoan the state of competition in the American broadband marketplace (often with little foundation) there is always at least one alternative to the local telephone or cable provider: non-participation.”

Fact: Net Neutrality gives consumers choice and fuels innovation.

Phone and cable companies control more than 96 percent of high-speed Internet connections to homes in America. The proposed Net Neutrality rules would prevent abuses in a highly concentrated and uncompetitive market. Without these protections, providers have a strong incentive to control not just access but also the content that flows across their networks. Net Neutrality protects competition, maximizes consumer choice, and ensures that we have unfettered access to the Web’s dynamic mix of new ideas.

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