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Verizon and Google Shaping FCC Net Neutrality Policy


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I just got this sent to me. It is a scary thought.


As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers how to write the rules to protect freedom and openness on the Internet, who should they turn to: consumers like you and me, or profit-hungry telecommunications companies?

Verizon and Google announced this week that they have it all figured out when it comes to net neutrality.* They unveiled a policy framework that would give telecom companies the right to speed up or slow down certain kinds of content, and to block outright applications or content on wireless networks.


[/url]It shouldn't be up to giant corporations to decide the rules and regulations that govern their behavior.


The FCC should act immediately to protect the long-standing principle of net neutrality so that the Internet can continue to grow, fuel innovation and facilitate communication.


Today the Internet serves as our "town square" -- where we talk to one another, exchange views, find information from many diverse sources of news and opinion, blog, contact candidates, and engage in our democracy. We must make certain that for-profit interests don't destroy the (small-d) democratic culture of the web.

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Both companies have denied a report by The New York Times that said the deal would allow Google to pay for faster access on Verizon's network, which mean it would be able to "speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege.


Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.



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It is interesting to see that there was no real media coverage of the the net neutrality protest in front of Google headquarters. Protesters outside the famed Googleplex said this would create a "pay-to-play" service and urged Google to live up to its famous motto "don't be evil".



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Big telecom and cable companies want to fundamentally change the way the Internet works, so they can make millions by acting as a gatekeeper over what you see and do online.


Our communities rely on the Internet to speak without a corporate filter, and to be able to organize and hold public officials and corporations accountable. But if these companies succeed, a few major corporations would control which voices are heard most easily, and it would be much harder for grassroots groups, individuals, and small businesses to compete with large corporations and well-funded special interests.


Please join us in calling on the FCC to keep the Internet open and democratic.



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For the past decade, Congress and our regulatory agencies have been purchased by corporate and commercial interests. I am amazed when anyone expresses surprise or indignation at this fact.


Do you really expect the FCC and lobbyists to represent *your* interests?

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Prepared Remarks of FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn

"The Future of the Internet" Public Hearing

Minneapolis, Minnesota

August 19, 2010


Thank you, Amalia for that kind introduction and many thanks to Free Press, Main Street Project, and Center for Media Justice for inviting me to participate. I am really happy to be here with you, your great Senator Al Franken, and my good friend and colleague, Commissioner Michael Copps.


Now many of you already know this, but I must reaffirm that the American people have a champion in my colleague, Commissioner Copps. For the last ten years, he has been the consistent voice for consumers at the FCC. He puts people first. He fights for First Amendment values, diversity of ownership, and voices in the communications space. He advocates for an open Internet for the American people.


At the FCC, we follow seniority when we speak, so it is not easy for me because I always have to follow Commissioner Copps. He is so thorough and convincing that it’s hard for me not to just say “I second that!” or “Amen!”, so please indulge me as I find my footing.

With each passing day, the Internet becomes more vital and essential in our lives. Whether it’s finding a job, receiving comprehensive health care, accessing educational materials, news and information, or participating in our democratic society—more Americans rely on the Internet each and every day.


And on that point, there is significant agreement. The President recently said that the Internet is “vital infrastructure” and “has become central to the daily economic life of almost every American.” And the U. S. Congress charged the FCC with developing our National Broadband Plan to ensure that high-speed Internet is available to all Americans—no matter where they live, and set aside over $7 billion in the Recovery Act for grants to build out broadband, and to encourage its adoption and use.


The current success of the Internet is due largely to its open architecture. It is a tremendous “technological leap.” Commissioner Copps has noted, and I agree that the Internet may have as democratizing an effect on society, as the printing press. Never before have media upstarts been able to reach such large audiences, in so short a time.


And if you think I am prone to exaggeration, remember that companies such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all been founded since 2003! New and innovative media companies are constantly starting-up today, citizen journalism is on the rise, blogs have an increasing influence on public discourse, and media providers from broadcast networks to newspapers are shifting their strategies online.


For these reasons and more, I say without hesitation, that an open Internet is indeed the great equalizer. It enables traditionally underrepresented groups—like minorities and women—to have an equal voice and an equal opportunity. It allows any connected individual to distribute their ideas to a global network or run their business right from their very own home. Just as the printing press dramatically reduced the price of publishing and disseminating works on a large scale, the Internet reduces the barriers to entry for new players. The Internet has become a gateway to success for those in business, and in the media, at a low capital cost.


So for these reasons, I am a firm believer in an open Internet, and I am also a proponent of the Commission enacting rules to ensure an open Internet. But let me be clear, when I say this, I am not talking about government regulating the content on the Internet.  This is about consumers—rather than corporations—maintaining control over their online experience. This is about keeping the Internet open for new entrants, small companies, people of all backgrounds and levels of experience and financial resources, including people of color and women.


So while I support the ongoing dialogue and consensus building among interested parties concerning the open Internet, I think that it is important for us to listen to all participants, including consumer groups, organizations representing minorities and women, and others whose futures are dependent on an open Internet.


An FCC study found that a greater percentage of African Americans and Latinos access the internet only through their wireless handsets. So any proposal that treats fixed and mobile Internet access to broadband differently would be problematic for me to support.


Americans who cannot afford wired Internet in addition to wireless Internet should also be guaranteed access to an open Internet. This is really a significant issue when so many businesses and government agencies are moving their information strictly online in order to save money.


Any proposal that favors the FCC being stripped of its rulemaking authority regarding consumer protection and non-discrimination requirements, and any proposal that would advocate that no agency will have authority over Internet access would be impossible for me to embrace and should leave us all wondering, if that should ever happen, exactly who is going to protect Internet consumers?


So while fundamentally I will affirm that there are many issues on which we agree—there are key issues on which it will be harder to find consensus. And on the key issues on which we disagree, I am hopeful that, going forward, we will be able to find ways to express ourselves and our divergent points of views, in a manner that embraces and encourages civility in an atmosphere of spirited discourse.


The American people deserve a decision that has had the benefit of a healthy debate, and one that is grounded in the facts, law, and a sound analysis. I know a healthy debate on the merits is possible. We have had them on many other policy issues. I have high hopes that, in the policy debate about preserving open Internet principles, all sides will spend less time on the rhetoric and spend more time on the facts and law and the results for consumers.


I tell my staff often that it is important for us to get outside the Beltway and hear directly from consumers. I want to thank you and the participants on tonight’s panel for taking time out of your busy lives to attend tonight’s discussion. I look forward to hearing about what an open Internet means to you.

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AUGUST 19, 2010


 Thank you, Josh Silver, for the wonderful introduction and for all the great things you do—like founding Free Press and bringing these critical communications and media issues to the four corners of the country. Your contribution has been immense—although we still have a long ways to go. Thanks to the Main Street Project and the Center for Media Justice for co-hosting and for all the good things they do to serve the public interest.


What an honor that Senator Al Franken joins us tonight to share with us his unique and always candid and incisive insights on these issues. Who better to talk about this than someone who has been there, worked there, and has a first-person understanding of how what’s going on now affects the consumers he fights so hard for? Minnesota and the nation are fortunate to have him in the Senate. And you are fortunate to have my friend Amy Klobuchar there, too. She serves on our authorizing Senate committee and she is a champion—a true champion—in fighting for a telecommunications and media environment that will include every citizen and benefit every citizen. I am also thoroughly pleased that my FCC colleague, Mignon Clyburn, is here, too. She has already proven herself in her brief tenure at the Commission to be a strong and dedicated advocate for the public interest and someone not afraid to speak her mind.  She is a great colleague. Each one of these leaders is concerned about the future of the media, the future of the Internet and the future of our country because they understand that without progressive media reform and without a progressive digital environment, the promise of broadband as a tool of new opportunity and open democracy will never be fulfilled.


Most of all, my biggest thanks go to the good citizens of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas who took the time to come here this evening to share their individual perspectives with us.  I look forward to hearing your ideas—all your ideas—while we’re together tonight. These are important issues and your presence here inspires me not just to keep on listening, but to keep on fighting.


I think most of you understand how important the Internet and access to high-speed broadband are to the future of our country. This incredible technology intersects with just about every great challenge confronting our nation—whether it’s jobs, education, energy, climate change and the environment, news, international competitiveness, health care or equal opportunity. There’s no solution for any of these challenges that does not have a broadband component to it. We have a technology now with more power to bring about good than any communications advancement in all of history. The question is: will we use it in such a way as to maximize its small “d” democratic potential—or will we turn this, too, over to the special interests and gatekeepers and toll-booth collectors who will short-circuit what this great new technology can do for our country?


The Internet was born on openness, flourished on openness and depends on openness for its continued success.  Easy to say—not so easy to guarantee. We must not ever allow the openness of the Internet to become just another pawn in the hands of powerful corporate interests.  The few players that control access to the wonders of the Internet tell us not to worry.  But I am worried. How can we have any confidence that their business plans and network engineering are not going to stifle our online freedom?  You know, history is pretty clear that when some special interest has control over both the content and distribution of a product or service—and a financial incentive to exercise that control—someone is going to try it. That’s a monopoly or an oligopoly or whatever you want to call it—I call it a danger to America.


And the present danger is that big business will put us on the road to the cannibalization, cable-ization and consolidation of broadband and the Internet. Oh, the special interests tell us not to worry. New technologies always work for the public good. Broadcasters said just give us a ton of free spectrum—hundreds of billions of dollars as it turned out—and the airwaves would always serve the people first. You saw what happened there! Then cable came along and said they would fill the holes in the road that broadcasting ended up creating—you know what happened there when you look at the programs you get and, worse, the bills you get. In both cases, we were too quick to take their word. Now the big Internet service providers give us the same pitch: “Don’t worry; be happy; we would never compromise the openness of the Internet.” After what happened to radio and television, and after what happened to cable, should we take their word? I don’t think so!


What happened was that in less than a generation, a media landscape that should have been moving toward more diversity, more localism and more competition was transformed into a market controlled by a handful of players, too often providing little more than infotainment, canned music and program homogenization.  Their newsrooms were shuttered, reporters were yanked off the beat and fired, and investigative journalism consigned to the endangered species list. The apologists told us this was the natural result of changes in technology and markets, and things would all work out fine in the world of new media if we just looked the other way a while longer. The facts told another story.  The huge debts these mega-companies took on to curry favor with investors and hedge-fund operators overwhelmed broadcaster obligations to be good stewards of the people’s airwaves. The public’s right to know got lost in the frenzy of financial hyper-speculation.


I want to be fair here and not pin it all on speculators or even media companies. In fact, many broadcasters—particularly those of the smaller, independent variety—do an excellent job, against steep odds, serving the public interest and informing their communities. The problem is we—and for “we” I mean mostly the FCC—we have made it awfully difficult for such broadcasters to survive in the newly concentrated environment. First we blessed and facilitated ever more media industry consolidation by loosening our ownership rules so that fewer and fewer media giants could buy up more and more media outlets. Then, to further advance the interests of a powerful few over the interests of consumers, innovators and entrepreneurs, the Commission moved away from any real oversight of our media infrastructure by wiping the slate clean of the public interest guidelines that generations of consumers and advocates had managed to put into place against powerful industry opposition. I’m talking about things like providing real local news, reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the individual markets broadcasters serve, limiting commercials and talking with listeners about the kinds of programs people really want.


Fast forward and along came the Internet. And, one more time, industry found a compliant Commission to do its work. “Here’s the idea,” they told their Commission allies. “We don’t want the next generation of telecommunications to be saddled with all those protections that consumers and advocates had fought so hard for with plain old telephones”—I’m talking about things like ensuring reasonable and comparable services and rates across the country no matter where you live, protecting privacy, supporting public safety—“so,” they went on, “why not take access to broadband out of that part of the law that protects consumers and put it in a really vague part of the statute where nothing is really guaranteed, where every protection for consumers would have to be built from the ground up, and where whenever any future Commission tries to do something positive, we can drag them into court and have a much better chance of keeping it from happening?” “Done deal,” two previous FCCs replied. “We’ll call access to the Internet an ‘information service’ instead of ‘telecommunications.’” And, presto, the deed was done. They moved it out from where it was and that meant that the safeguards that accompanied plain old telephone service would have no guaranteed place in the digital world. Can you believe it? Well, it happened—although, I should point out, only over my strong objections and those of my friend and then-colleague, Jonathan Adelstein. By the way, no other country in the world that I can find ever played a semantic game like this wherein they stopped calling “telecommunications” telecommunications, gave it a new name, and used that as the excuse to undercut how an industry meets its responsibilities to the public.


Our job now is to correct course by reclassifying broadband as the telecommunications service that it is (you know: actually call an apple an apple) and then craft rules and procedures that will protect consumers against discrimination, protect against a privatized Internet, and protect against the cannibalization, cable-ization and further consolidation of broadband technology. That doesn’t mean that every regulation that applied to a dial phone applies to access to the Internet—but it means someone has the authority to make sure our telecommunications infrastructure truly serves the people.


All this came to a head last week with an announcement by Verizon and Google. These very big, very powerful, very wealthy companies pronounced to Capitol Hill, the FCC and the public that they have now agreed upon a policy framework that will work for the benefit of the American people. Of course it wasn’t developed with input from the American people, but it is, they assure us, for the American people. It’s “trust us,” one more time. Well, you don’t have to read very far in their joint handiwork to discover that, as much as these companies say they support an open Internet, this new framework isn’t what we’ve been waiting for, not by a long shot.


In fact, the Verizon-Google Gaggle would almost completely exclude wireless broadband from the future of Internet openness—even though wireless is how more and more Americans will be getting their Internet access with each passing year. Don’t we want open Internet rules that apply to all gatekeepers? Don’t we want openness in the mobile world, too? Next, the Gaggle’s proposal would eliminate any meaningful, effective FCC oversight of the open Internet, and that means such critically-important responsibilities as the setting of standards and the swift resolution of controversies. Our function would be to do some basic monitoring, write an occasional report, get out of the way and entrust the public interest to the special interests. “Don’t worry, be happy,” they say. I say, “No thanks.”


But wait, there’s more. Here’s the real kicker. The Verizon-Google Gaggle wants to build a world of private Internets that would vastly diminish the centrality of the Internet that you and I know. They want a tiered Internet. “Managed services” is what they call this. “Gated communities for the Affluent” is what I call them. So, for example, a special Verizon-Google or Comcast-NBC service could come to you extra quickly, with special quality of service or priority, and thereby decrease the amount of bandwidth left for the open Internet we know today. And that also means that those of us who can’t pay for higher speeds, better quality of service and special priority are relegated to second-class service. As for new competitors who might want to offer Internet access service…well, good luck. Finally, you might ask, if the big guys can build these privileged private networks, why would they bother with getting higher speeds and more bandwidth to the rest of us?


I suppose you can’t blame companies for seeking to protect their own interests. But you can blame policy-makers if we let them get away with it. Deal-making between big Internet players is not policy-making for the common good. Special interests are not the public interest. Stockholders are not the only stakeholders. I will not settle—you should not settle—for gatekeepers of the Internet striking deals that exchange Internet freedom—yours and mine—for bloated profits on their quarterly reports to Wall Street.


You know, what I’m talking about here this evening, it isn’t just something that would be nice for us, the FCC, to do. It’s something we have to do if the enormous potential of broadband and the Internet is ever to be fully realized. And it’s something we have to do if we are really serious about making the FCC what it was intended to be—an honest-to-goodness consumer protection agency.


We will be successful in this crucial undertaking only if truth flows out like water across the land and people understand—really understand—what’s at stake here.  And that depends on you as much as it depends upon Al Franken or Amy Klobuchar or Mignon Clyburn or Josh Silver or me.


Truth tells its story only when it can be heard. Powerful interests are spending millions of dollars to make sure the waters of truth don’t flow on this issue. What can counter them is you. I know, Josh knows, many of you know, that citizen action—even in this age when too few people wield far too much influence—can stop them in their tracks. Citizen action can still work—I’ve seen it happen. But does it take work! Our history testifies to reformers, civil rights crusaders, women’s rights champions, labor organizers, consumer advocates, even media-rights defenders, committing to the cause, making a difference and moving our country forward. It’s never easy, but it’s always necessary. This is one of those necessary times.


So don’t take “No” for an answer. Don’t take delay for an answer. Take action for an answer. Action NOW.


Thank you very much.

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Guest Working Mom

Just like the Democrats, you compromised too soon. You have to stand your ground until they come to you asking for support, being that you are Google, practically God of the net...you could do this. You compromised too soon, so disappointed. You guys are really good at doing stuff, so you should have put together a crack team to handle intense negotiations.


Did anyone think of what this could do to the wireless market? People may reject wireless outright due to it. I know I had planned to go wireless, but now...eh no thanks. If things get to bad and companies start herding people towards wireless, I'll just go back to dial up. Ya, that serious.


As for verizon, totally disappointed. I used to support them too. If anything, I think THEY should have compromised and lead the way. People would have flocked to them. I was just at the Verizon store before reading this, and looking at their broadband...eh no thanks. After this I realize it isn't worth it.

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Guest Narcio

Totally disappointed in Google!


Net Neutrality allowed Google to compete on a leveled playing field against the incumbents in the early 2000's(Yahoo!, Altavista, etc.) and beat them based on innovation.


Now winners on the wireless Internet will be determined by the amount of money paid to the network operators and not the level of innovation.


It seems that Google is turning into the new Microsoft.

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Guest Sea Clearly

This week, Sen. Franken spoke at a public hearing, organized by the Free Press and hosted in Minneapolis, concerning Net Neutrality and the future of the internet. As Timothy Karr writes on the Huffington Post, Sen. Franken spoke adamantly to defend the rights of everyday citizens:

Sen. Al Franken (D.-Minn.) warned a packed house Thursday night in Minneapolis that the corporate takeover of our media, and the government's failure to stop it, is one of the most important issues of our time.

Franken said our media system is at risk everywhere we turn -- from our free speech online to the growing power of companies who own a massive number of media outlets.

Franken was speaking during a hearing featuring Federal Communications Commission Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps.

He spoke about recent efforts by Verizon and Google to push a "policy framework" on Washington that transfers control over Internet content from the people who go online into the hands of a few powerful corporations.

"We can't let companies write the rules that they're supposed to follow," he said. "Because if that happens those rules are going to be written only to protect corporations."

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Guest Oliver Dykstra

Net Neutrality is not about controlling companies, it is about preventing companies from controlling accessible information as well as access to that information. As you know "Stop Collectivism" democracy does not work when their is only one candidate to vote for. The same is true of the free market, if their is only one product available and only one store selling it can you really "vote with your dollar"?


Of course not. We need Net Neutrality. Not to control the internet or personal computers. We need Net Neutrality to keep private business from consolidating control over the internet. We need Net Neutrality in order to maintain a free and open internet useable by all people.


Because a neutral internet is the purest form of democracy.

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Guest Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

The recent announcement that Google and Verizon believe Internet and wireless providers should decide what kinds of online content they allow customers to access should spur the FCC to immediate action. As it stands, Internet and phone service providers cannot and must not discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications. The Internet has succeeded precisely because it’s the ultimate level playing field. You can access the sites and download the programs you want regardless of which company handles your Internet connection.


The Google/Verizon proposal threatens to kill the free flow of information on the Internet. It would allow a given provider to decide not to grant access to online political resources with which it disagrees. It would allow a company allied with a particular television network to grant high-quality access only to that network’s content, degrading the speed and quality of other networks’ Web sites. This kind of corporate meddling is not what makes the Internet the great engine of innovation and progress that it is.


In today’s world, social movements and calls to action often begin on the Internet. The Internet has opened our political process to millions of people and has become a fundamental part of our democratic landscape. It allows us to rapidly organize and exchange ideas and information. It gives us the opportunity to better communicate with our elected officials and our fellow citizens. It allows us to work together to influence outcomes and have a meaningful impact on public policy.


Moreover, the Internet is the last refuge of our democracy against corporate domination of the media – our last refuge for the free exchange of ideas and information. We cannot return to the days when powerful corporate interests control the story, the medium and the message. The Internet must remain in the hands of the people.


In order to make sure that happens, all the FCC has to do is reclassify broadband as a ‘telecommunications’ service – which it clearly is – instead of an ‘informational’ service, which was the term used by the Bush administration for political reasons. This single decision will protect every American who enjoys the Internet as it is. It is a decision that should be made sooner rather than later.

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Guest Robert B.

This is a fine example of socialism for the rich. We will longer be able to compete in the free market but rather seek special privileges from corporations that control the market.


This form of Capitalism is not my cup of tea.

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Guest Phillip

This is quite funny. Everyone in the mobile phone business knows that Verizon Wireless Smartphones Consume More Data than iPhones.




The only argument worth discussing is priority for remote medical operations. Which I think should be done by private network satellite.

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Guest Bob D.

I found that Bing is better for educational results and Google is better for product results. This makes me nervous that the future of the internet will be just a giant shopping cart.

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