WASHINGTON, July 29, 2010 – Sen. Al Franken says he believes “net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time.”
The Democratic senator from Minnesota spoke about network neutrality and the upcoming merger of NBC and Comcast on July 24 at the Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas.
If no one stops the Comcast and NBC merger, Franken asked: “How long do you think it will take before four or five mega corporations affectively control the flow of the information in America not only on television but online?”
Controlling the flow of information, called gate keeping, means that service providers could stop certain content, suggest other content, and effectively limit the choices of consumers in everything from news to shopping.
Net neutrality is the idea that no one should control the flow of information, that the internet is made up of pipes that are neutral to what flows through them.
Franken said this openness is the value of the internet, and that allowing corporations like these to merge would be allowing them to become gatekeepers.
“It used to be that only the government could threaten your First Amendment rights,” Franken said, adding, “Now corporations with government permission pose the greatest threat to your first amendment rights.”
The Comcast-NBC merger is the first domino according to Franken, and “it’s almost too late to stop this from happening, but not quite.”
Franken called for consumers to join the fight.
“If you want to protect the free flow of information in this country you have to help me fight this,” Franken concluded.
Netroots Nation, according to its web site, “amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.”