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Free Press Tells Google ‘Don’t be Evil’

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON August 12, 2010- In response to the recent Google Verizon statement on network neutrality Free Press along with others have organized a protest.

The “Don’t be Evil” rally will take place August 13th in front of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

The other major sponors of the rally include MoveOn.org Civic Action, ColorofChange.org, Credo Action, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Combatants in Net Neutrality Fight Take Aim at Each Other, FCC Chief and Comcast

in Net Neutrality by

By Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com; and Cassandre Durocher, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, July 31 – Combatants on the subject of Net Neutrality debate took aim at each other on Thursday, with House Minority Leader John Boehner blasting FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in advance of a Federal Communications Commission meeting on Friday.

“Recent media reports indicate the FCC is poised for massive, unprecedented regulation of the Internet,” wrote Boehner, an Ohio Republican. “This dangerous path would limit freedom, stifle innovation and entrepreneurship, and kill American jobs.”

For about a week, press reports have indicated that Martin had secured the support of the commission’s two Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, to punish Comcast over its network management practices.

The cable company delayed and effectively blocked access to the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing program, and the company has been grilled at a variety of FCC forums.

The non-profit groups Free Press and Public Knowledge filed a complaint against Comcast after investigations by the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation uncovered the blockage in the fall of 2007.

Boehner called attention to Monday’s Washington Post op-ed piece by Republican FCC Commisioner Robert McDowell. In the piece, McDowell urged the commission – which will formally vote on the matter at the Friday open meeting – not to “choose regulation over collaboration.”

To do so, McDowell argued, “we [would] be setting a precedent by thrusting politicians and bureaucrats into engineering decision.” He said that the Internet’s self-regulatory mechanisms have proven capable of resolving network congestion issues in the past.

In the Post piece, McDowell also noted that “the Internet is the ultimate ‘wiki’ environment – one that we all share, build, pay for and shape.”

Net Neutrality is increasingly becoming a political flash-point, with Democrats generally favoring Net Neutrality regulations, and Republicans generally opposing it.

Industry-specific favoritism also factors into the debate. McDowell, for example, has been favorably disposed toward the cable industry during his tenure as a commissioner since 2006. Martin, by contrast, has driven the cable industry batty by taking more than a dozen actions to which cable operators object.

In a statement reacting to Boehner’s comments, Public Knowedge President Gigi Sohn said: “It is a shame that the harm Comcast has done to the Internet has not been appreciated by Leader Boehner. Rather than criticizing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Leader Boehner should praise him for putting a stop to a practice that technical experts have said is clearly outside the bounds of accepted Internet practice, while at the same time the FCC is acting to protect consumers.”

Sohn also said that any action against Comcast would “in no way deter broadband investment, as the financial results of AT&T, which is operating under a Net Neutrality merger condition, have shown.”

Martin was also excoriated over Net Neutrality by the Wall Street Journal editorial board on Wednesday. In an editorial entitled “FCC.politics.gov,” the newspaper said that Martin “wants to make an example of Comcast in order to advance a ‘network neutrality’ industrial policy being pushed by high-tech rivals like Google and pro-regulation advocacy groups like MoveOn.org, Consumers Union and Free Press.”

Newspaper Articles and Blog Posts Referenced by this Article:

Democratic Party Debate Over Net Neutrality Over, Advocates Declare

in Net Neutrality by

By Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com; and Cassandre Durocher, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, July 29 – In lining up the support of all major Democratic challengers running for Senate this fall, advocates for Net Neutrality said that this complicated issue of telecom politics has now become a partisan issue in November’s general election.

“The fact that the Democratcs are promoting Net Neutrality is a pretty significant change in how Net Neutrality will happen,” blogger Matt Stoller said in an interview. Last week Stoller announced that all the major Senate Democratic challengers now support Net Neutrality.

“The debate over Net Neutrality in the Democratic Party is basically over,” said Stoller. “We won this fight.”

He said that Senate Democratic challengers “really see the connection [between] Net Neutrality and activism on the Internet.”

Equally significant in raising the partisanship of the issue, the presumptive presidential nominees of the two major political parties have taken opposite positions on the issue.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., favors Net Neutrality legislation. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., opposes it.

Net Neutrality generally refers to legislation or regulation that would bar Bell companies and cable operators from expediting the internet delivery of favored business partners’ content – or blocking the content of rivals.

Attention to Net Neutrality has been heightened with reports that the Federal Communications Commission is expected on Friday to penalize Comcast for blocking, or degrading, the internet traffic to users of the peer-to-peer software application BitTorrent.

So strong is the momentum for Net Neutrality that “Kevin Martin is being pressured by Democrats in the House and Senate,” Stoller said, referring to the Republican chairman of the FCC.

In a post last week on OpenLeft, Stoller annouced the reslts of his campaign: all 13 of the Senate Democratic challengers with more than $500,000 cash on hand now support Net Neutrality legislation. That’s up from nine of the challengers before Stoller began to contact their offices.

“I went out and asked them to support Net Neutrality, and my readers asked them to support Net Neutrality, and activists asked them to support Net Neutrality,” said Stoller.

“A lot of the people supporting Net Neutrality don’t talk to candidates, but I do, because I am a blogger,” said Stoller.

Free Press, one of the major activist group pushing for Net Neutrality – and which operates the savetheinternet.com web site – is non-partisan, and hence unable to engage in partisan politics under its tax-exempt status.

“A guy on his blog just preempted the work of millions of dollars of telecom lobbyists,” said Adam Green of Moveon.org. “OpenLeft deserves a lot of credit for leveraging its voice during this election season and getting these candidates on the record.”

Democrats currently in the Senate are more complicated picture. According to a tally produced by Save the Internet (which may be dated), of the senators that caucus with the Democrats, 31 support Net Neutrality, 18 haven’t declared their position, and two are “waffling”: Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

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