Monday, June 12, 2006
The US House of Commons rejects Net Neutrality
A dark day is upon the landscape of the internet - as the telecom industry moves to control our free consumption and participation on the internet. The Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE) was passed with a majority of 321 votes to 101 in the US House of Commons. This act will allow telecom companies to regulate the use of the internet, and take the power of grassroots media, and free publishing out of the hands of the user/contributor.
The bill drew overwhelming support from Republican members of the House, with the GOP caucus voting 215-8 in favor of it. But Democrats also favored the proposal, albeit by a narrower vote of 106 to 92. The House's sole independent member, Vermont's Bernie Sanders, a champion of internet freedom who is seeking his state's open Senate seat this fall, voted against the measure.
The fight over net neutrality now moves to the Senate, where Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan have introduced legislation to codify the net neutrality principles of equal and unfettered access to Internet content into federal law. Mark Cooper, the director of research for the Consumers Federation of America, thinks net neutrality will find more friends in the Senate, at least in part because the "Save the Internet" coalition that has grown to include more than 700 groups, 5,000 bloggers and 800,000 individuals is rapidly expanding.
"This coalition will continue to grow, millions of Americans will add their voices, and Congress will not escape the roar of public opinion until Congress passes enforceable net neutrality," says Cooper.
Cooper's correct to be more hopeful about the Senate than the House. But the House vote points up the need to get Democrats united on this issue. There's little question that a united Democratic caucus could combine with principled Republicans in the Senate to defend net neutrality. But if so-called "New Democrats" in the Senate side with the telephone and cable lobbies, the information superhighway will become a toll road.
Check out also Democracy Now! videocast on the subject of our threatened web freedom, and the most powerful citizen tool we have. Also check out "Save the Internet" - and join the movement to stop corporate control of the internet.