netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Network Neutrality

After a couple days of thinking I really should do something about this, I sat down and hammered out the letter below. I tracked down the addresses for my four Congressmen (a plus of living in a small state), and sent them each a copy. For those of you who know Connecticut, and know my politics, you can appreciate how much I enjoyed addressing a letter to "Hon. Rep. Rob Simmons". Anyway, here is the letter. If you maintain your own web site, or visit web sites other than those run by titanomegacorps (that would essentially be all of you), this issue matters to you. You can learn more about it here:

Hon. Senator Christopher Dodd
448 Russell Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Dodd;

I am writing to express my views on an issue currently before the Congress: Internet network neutrality. In both my working and civic life, I am involved with organizations that rely on an open and fair Internet to do their work. By day I maintain the voice and data network for the Hartford Public Schools (HPS); in my free time I am a volunteer with Glastonbury Partners in Planting (GPIP), a small town-based non-profit. Both organizations use the Internet as a primary means of communication. HPS' 24,000 students access literally millions of web pages each day. GPIP uses email to announce meetings, plan educational and service events, and organize volunteers. GPIP's web site is a key tool for getting its message out, and bringing individuals, families, and businesses into the organization.

The ability of schools such as HPS to bring rich Internet-based educational materials to its students, and the ability of non-profits such as GPIP to connect with the community, is threatened by legislation such as the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006" (COPE). The COPE Act would effectively permit the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs, such as AT&T and Verizon) to charge web sites to prioritize their traffic. It would leave small voices – such as educational web sites and non-profits – at the bottom of the heap.

Since the inception of the Internet, the principle of network neutrality has required that all ISPs treat everyone's traffic equally. That principle is what makes the Internet the great democratizing force that it is. Individuals and organizations (large and small) can be seen by all; if you can afford an Internet connection, you can share your knowledge or get your message out. Removing network neutrality, which the COPE Act will do, will allow ISPs to essentially charge twice for the same bandwidth – once for their subscribers to access the Internet, and a second time when they shake down large web site operators for fees to prioritize their traffic on the ISP's network. This is patently unfair and will have the effect of squashing "the little guy's" ability to be heard. Only the large ISPs will benefit from removing network neutrality.

I urge you to oppose the COPE Act in its current form. Network neutrality is an important principle that must be preserved for all of us.

Yours truly,


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