Sunday, June 11, 2006

The End Of Democracy

NOTICE: This week's post was originally going to be named Bride Of Thoughts!, but due to an alarming turn of events, I took that post down until next week, as I believe this one is of much greater importance. Thank you for understanding.
-- Alan

Democracy: de·mok·ress·E
(n) pl. de·moc·ra·cies

1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
4. Majority rule.
5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

I am proud to tell you that there is very little in the world today that I actually care about or believe in. I do not consider myself a member of any particular local or political group, nor do I see voting as some kind of civic obligation. I'm not a booster for anything, and I never played in the band. I make it my business to mind my business: I do my thing, and I leave everybody else the fuck alone. I'm a happy kind of guy.

That being said, I want to tell you... no. I have to tell you about something which disturbed me.Today something happened: something bad. And I must say that's not a thing I utter lightly. The metacrime I speak of happened in the United States House of Representatives on the evening of June 8th, 2006. On this date, a death knell was heard as the House of Representatives, caving into pressure from AT&T, Verison, and BellSouth lobbyists, voted down a Constitutional Amendment that would guarantee freedom of access on the Internet.

That amendment was called Net Neutrality, and it would have worked like this: Right now, you as the Internet user control what you see. You open a browser window, type in a URL, and you are directed to that page, regardless of what network it's on, or who owns the hardware. Furthermore, these networks must currently allow traffic from other, competing networks on their systems at the same level of quality. That is, they may not intentionally block access or restrict service to competing content. Nor may they downgrade the quality of competing content to promote their own material. That's how things would have Constitutionally remained. Neutral. Fair play. Right down the middle.

Right out the window is more like it.

While I'm willing to admit that a Constitutional Amendment is probably a little extreme, I agree with the principles behind it. (If an Equal Rights Amendment flopped, what chance does something like this have?) However a bill is now in the Senate, put forth by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), that would prevent the privatizing of the Internet in the United States. The large telecom companies want to make the Internet more like your local cable experience. They would determine what content you got, when it was available, and could restrict or ban access to things that they simply didn't like, such as competing technology or sites like this one should they take offense to something I've said.

What's more, they could go about charging whatever they felt like for "premium" services and speeds. If you couldn't afford to pay their price, you don't get the fast lane, and have to take what they call "The Low Road". What's worse, they could offer premium speeds to the highest bidders on their networks, ensuring that Yahoo! Search loaded faster than Google, for example, should the folks at Yahoo! buy into their little digital mint and the good guys at Google snub them.

This nifty little business model extends to those of you who use iTunes as well. Say for a second that your network owned it's own music delivery system. iTunes would be in direct competition with it, so it decides to block access to iTunes and Apple's website in general on it's network. Now you can't access iTunes anymore. If you want music online, you have to get it from them exclusively.

Even if they didn't outright block it, (which this legislation will allow them to do!), they could downgrade the service so bad that you wouldn't want to use it anymore. How? Well how about trickling the downloads through at about 1k per second? That means that a 4.3 MB song would take you 72 minutes to download. Ugh.

They could block news sites if one should publish a story that casts them in an unbecoming light. They could block stock quote sites, newsgroups, blogs, video content, and anything else that they don't get a kickback from. They could charge you whatever they wanted for bandwidth and there's not a single god damned thing you could do about it.

And before you say that this could never happen, you should know that they already own over 90% of the networks in the United States anyway. Only a precious few restrictions are preventing them from doing all this right now, and those are the ones they're trying to dissolve with heavy bankrolls even as we speak. Unfortunately, they won't be the first of the lot to fall either.

Speak up! Write your congressmen, write dirty letters, visit Hell, if you have any poo, fling it now! But don't let them get away with another piece of our freedom. We must be resolute; they don't cross this line!

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Anonymous CLIFF YOUKNOW said...


11:33 PM  
Anonymous Troy from TODC said...

Cliff.... Are you a monkey pooh flinger! LOL

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello I do not agree with all of you!

5:07 PM  

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