The opinions expressed here are well-reasoned and insightful -- needless to say they are not the opinions of my employers

09 August 2007

The Internets is the Commons

Al Gore did not personally invent the internet (nor did he ever claim to have), but it was created largely through the work of publically-funded entities, primarily universities and the military.

Like the radio, TV, and wireless spectrum private enterprise now wants to plant its flag into this public square and claim ownership.

From the official website of the band Pearl Jam:
When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:

- "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and

- "George Bush find yourself another home."

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

Complaints about the stifling of voices in the corporate media are commonly met with sweeping references to the expansion of our choices since the advent of cable (though the vast majority of cable channels are owned by the same media giants); satellite radio (though there are only two satellite companies, soon to be only one); and the democratic (some say anarchic) nature of the internet.

Major broadcast companies have made it clear the last few years that they feel that they have the right to reject paid television advertisements based on the most specious of reasons: CBS refused to sell time to MoveOn.org and PETA by saying “The network simply does not accept any advocacy advertising of any kind,” as if there were such a thing as non-advocacy advertising.

Well, say goodbye to the democratic internet. The FCC has essentially handed the internet over to a few giant phone and cable companies, allowing them the right to control traffic and charge a premium for fast service. The lobbying arms of these corporations are keeping legislation to prevent this bottled up in congress. Learn about Net Neutrality at savetheinternet.com and let your congressman, your senators, and the FCC know that you think that this is important.

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