Tell Congress Not to Side with Corporate Interests on Internet Neutrality

Internet neutrality is the idea that the Internet should be a free and open network. But large media companies have been jockeying for more control over it and recently, they experienced a small, but alarming victory.

A Congressional panel voted to make it easier for phone and cable companies to block or slow your access to sites and services on the Web.

Why? Because telephone and cable companies, like AT&T and Comcast, own the lines that connect you to the Internet, they can control where you go and how fast you get there. By blocking or slowing access to Internet-based services that compete with their own offerings like Internet-telephone, music, and video downloads, they reduce competition and increase business -- but for Internet users like you and me, this is bad news.

Now, the issue goes before Congress and if they pass this legislation, it would be like opening Pandora’s box. Once phone and cable companies are granted the legal ability to block or inhibit your access to the Web and its services, access to information becomes monopolized, making it near impossible for bloggers, start-ups, and every day people to create new content or access it.

We need to stand up, before the last great democratic frontier falls under the control of corporate America. Take a moment now to tell Congress why the Internet must be kept free and open, for everyone!

Dear Congressmember,

The Internet is a critical communications tool for me and millions of other consumers. Please don't let corporate telecommunications giants block, slow or otherwise discriminate against information, services, applications offered on the Internet or charge new access fees to Internet-based companies that offer services that I want over the Internet.

- Some phone companies have already blocked access to competitor telephone services offered over the Internet.
- Those that are planning to offer video over their high-speed lines want to speed access to their own video services over those of their rivals, eliminating competitive alternatives that could help lower my cable bill.
- And recently, two large communications companies said they plan on charging Internet companies for faster speeds to deliver services to their customers, even after they've already charged consumers for broadband service.

If they're allowed to do that, only the big Internet companies will be able to afford to pay and entrepreneurial start-ups that could offer consumers better, more innovative services will be shut out. Those companies that can afford the fees will just pass them on to me; I'll end up paying more for broadband service that is already too expensive. Unfortunately, right now, nothing can stop these companies from doing any of this.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done little to stop this. Though it issued a policy--known as network neutrality--against this type of discrimination on the Internet, it won't write the rules to prevent that behavior, nor will it enforce the policy. Weak policies are not enough.

You need to step in to protect my Internet.

Congress is now considering the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006 (COPE Act) in the House of Representatives. That Act not only does nothing to protect the internet from discriminatory tactics of network owners, it actually reduces the FCC's ability to prevent discriminatory behavior.

Instead of the weak provisions in the COPE Act, Congress should enact strong and enforceable legislation that would ensure that the Internet remains open and unfettered by the companies that control high-speed Internet lines and which prevents telecommunications and cable companies from charging Internet-based companies fees just to reach me.

Please support legislation that would provide zero-tolerance for any network discrimination and prohibit the telephone and cable companies from charging fees to Internet companies. Legislation should not include loopholes that allow companies to block or impair the flow of information over the Internet under the guise of "network management."

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