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House Rejects Net Neutrality

The Nation’s John Nichols explains how perilously close the U.S. government is to making a toll road out of the Internet–on which only the rich websites will be able to pay to have their content load move fastest.


John Nicols in The Nation:

The First Amendment of the Internet ? the governing principle of net neutrality, which prevents telecommunications corporations from rigging the web so it is easier to visit sites that pay for preferential treatment ? took a blow from the House of Representatives Thursday.

Bowing to an intense lobbying campaign that spent tens of millions of dollars ? and held out the promise of hefty campaign contributions for those members who did the bidding of interested firms ? the House voted 321 to 101 for the disingenuously-named Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE). That bill, which does not include meaningful network-neutrality protections creates an opening that powerful telephone and cable companies hope to exploit by expanding their reach while doing away with requirements that they maintain a level playing field for access to Internet sites.

“Special interest advocates from telephone and cable companies have flooded the Congress with misinformation delivered by an army of lobbyists to undermine decades-long federal practice of prohibiting network owners from discriminating against competitors to shut out competition. Unless the Senate steps in, (Thursday’s) vote marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as an engine of new competition, entrepreneurship and innovation.” says Jeannine Kenney, a senior policy analyst for Consumers Union.

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