Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Preserving the Internet as a Democratic Tool

Most writers make extensive use of the Internet to do their business. Manuscripts are sent to editors electronically, websites are developed, blogs are nurtured, and social networking sites, such as Facebook, are leveraged to get the word out.

A move is afoot, sponsored by the telecom and cableco giants, to charge usage fees for the Internet, over and above the monthly ISP fee people may fork over each month ($12 - $50 fixed or $144 to $600 annually). Note that Internet access at your local library is free, paid for by your tax dollars. This corporate action is disconcerting. The Free Press reports that, “In the first three months of 2009, the phone and cable industries spent at least $20 million to hire more than 400 lobbyists!” See the graphic above (the Free Press is outnumbered and outspent). Their corporate objective is to secure policies that augment their bottom line while leaving Americans with an Internet “that is too expensive and too slow compared to services in other countries.”

The Free Press is asking us to write to the FCC (writers like us can easily do this) and tell them that we need a fast, affordable, and open Internet.

By getting involved now, “we can reinvigorate the economy, open up public participation in government, empower a new generation of journalists, and give everyone the opportunity to prosper in the 21st century.” Sounds lofty, but these things are achievable by having our politicians and regulators set public policy for the people and not for corporate America. We need an Internet that’s “participatory, open, and democratic.” Keep the Internet as a tool for democracy and get involved. Write in!

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