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Al Franken writes: "I've said that net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. It's true. If Republicans have their way, large corporations won't just have the loudest voices in the room. They'll be able to effectively silence everyone else. Every small business they'd prefer not to compete with. Every blogger who publishes something they don't like. We have to stop them."

Portrait, Senator Al Franken. (photo: Jeffrey Thompson/Getty Images)
Portrait, Senator Al Franken. (photo: Jeffrey Thompson/Getty Images)

Net Neutrality Is Under Attack ... Again

By Al Franken, Reader Supported News

09 November 11


his week, the free and open Internet millions of Americans have come to depend on is under attack.

In a procedural move, Senate Republicans are trying to overturn the rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put in place late last year to help protect net neutrality - the simple idea that all content and applications on the Internet should be treated the same, regardless of who owns the content or the website. The House already pushed through this dangerous legislation, which would effectively turn control of the Internet over to a handful of very powerful corporations.

I sincerely hope the Senate doesn't follow suit, and I'm doing everything I can to make sure this terrible legislation never reaches the President's desk.

While millions of Americans have become familiar with the concept of net neutrality, it's important that we're all on the same page. Net neutrality isn't a government takeover of the Internet, as many of my Republican colleagues have alleged. It isn't even a change from what we have now. Net neutrality has been in place since the very beginning of the Internet.

This isn't a radical concept - it's what each and every one of us experiences every time we use the Internet. Right now, an e-mail from a friend arrives in your inbox just as quickly and reliably as an advertisement from Consumers can go online and make a reservation at a small fishing lodge in Ely, Minnesota, just as quickly as they can at the Hilton.

But many Republicans want to change that so that the large corporations they represent can increase their profit margins at the expense of small businesses and consumers.

To illustrate why net neutrality is so critical to innovation on the web, I like to tell the story of a small online startup that launched in 2005 above a pizzeria in San Francisco. It had a product that now seems simple: it allowed people to upload videos so others could stream them. It was called YouTube - you may have heard of it.

At the time, Google had a similar product - Google Video - but it wasn't as easy to use, so consumers took their business to YouTube. The site took off and, less than two years after it launched, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.6 billion. Not a bad payday.

But it wouldn't have been possible without net neutrality. If Google had been able to pay Comcast and other large Internet service providers to prioritize its data - and make YouTube's videos load more slowly - YouTube wouldn't have stood a chance. Google's inferior product would have won.

Last year, the FCC took action to protect net neutrality, establishing a set of rules designed to preserve the status quo - the rules under which YouTube and thousands of other start-ups flourished. While those rules didn't do nearly as much as I would have liked to protect consumers, encourage innovation, and keep the Internet fully free, they at least laid a foundation to preserve the basic principles of net neutrality.

These are the rules Republicans in the House have already voted to overturn. This week, my Republican colleagues in the Senate will attempt to short circuit the legislative process by forcing a procedural vote and ignoring the FCC's expertise on this issue. They hope to abolish net neutrality and give their supporters in big telecom what they want: an unfair advantage over small businesses and bigger profits at the expense of consumers.

I've said that net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. It's true. If Republicans have their way, large corporations won't just have the loudest voices in the room. They'll be able to effectively silence everyone else.

Every small business they'd prefer not to compete with. Every blogger who publishes something they don't like.

We have to stop them. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+65 # Bruce Gruber 2011-11-09 12:17
They never give up. There will be numerous shell groups (American People for the Delivery of High Quality Communications, Internet Freedom For All, Small Voices Against Massive Government and the like) spontaneously created by lobbying shills and corporation hacks to mislead and propagandize the issues. Misinformation in search of monopolistic profit. Why don't they just get a job and go to work?
+15 # tm7devils 2011-11-10 03:10
They've got a get as much of your money as they can with the least amount of output...
+74 # salvatore 2011-11-09 12:18
These Republicans are like the communists they disparage: they fear the free market and they commune with the big corporations. Damn commies!
+35 # readerz 2011-11-09 14:04
And they are against free speech. The two major newspapers in the Soviet days were called "Truth" and "News." People used to say, "There is no truth in the News and no news in the Truth." So, they want to take both the news and the truth out of the Internet. Damn commies!
+13 # tm7devils 2011-11-10 03:24
First of all - "Free Speech" is an oxymoron. Also, they are not against 'free speech'...they just don't want it to have any moral, timely or factual content...remem ber, as long as they can keep us ignorant they can keep pulling off their scams.
And it's working...the American public, as a group, are the most ignorant people on the planet...except , maybe, for an Oronoco tribe in the jungles of SA.
+3 # boudreaux 2011-11-10 09:24
I am part of that group of people that you say are ignorant and let me tell you tm7devils, I will never back down, I will never shut up, I will go to my death screaming out what I think is right or wrong. And free speak is not an oxymoran, it is a right that I have so you should just speak for yourself on this issue...
+2 # 1984 2011-11-12 14:09
You are obviously NOT one of those ignorant people. tm7devils was referring to the too many Americans who are ignorant.
+3 # chick 2011-11-12 18:45
Those ignorant Americans are called Republican voters, who listen to Faux news and actually believe everything they hear from them.
+11 # mwd870 2011-11-10 09:31
Quoting tm7devils:
...the American public, as a group, are the most ignorant people on the planet...except, maybe, for an Oronoco tribe in the jungles of SA.

I'm sorry to have to agree with this.
+1 # travlindr 2011-11-13 17:19
Quoting readerz:
And they are against free speech. The two major newspapers in the Soviet days were called "Truth" and "News." People used to say, "There is no truth in the News and no news in the Truth." So, they want to take both the news and the truth out of the Internet. Damn commies!

You need to learn to distinguish between communists and fascists. The GOP represents the latter. Fox News is every bit as effective as Hitler's propaganda machine.
+1 # travlindr 2011-11-13 17:14
Actually, they act like just what they are...fascists. Americans do not realize that fascists and communists are at extreme opposite ends of the political spectrum (extreme left and extreme right). Both are totalitarian and I like neither. However, a well known fascist tactic is to brand the opposition as communist. Fascists also 1) blame problems on minorities 2) are extremely sexists, homophobic, and against women's reproductive freedom, 3) think corporations can do no wrong. I do not recall at the moment the remainder of the 14 major characteristics of fascism, but google that phrase. They are readily available on the internet.
+51 # Erdajean 2011-11-09 12:23
Oh, how the GOPukes are slobbering to get this one last vestige of truly public communication under THEIR control -- for one thing, so they can sell first rights on the net to their big, deep-pocketed corporate buddies -- and not let uncooperative little guys on at all! Why would these congressional dopes and thugs not love that! Think how much MORE they could squeeze from the fat-cats' lobbyists? Beyond that, it would effectively murder free speech.
Have we seen the real depths of despisable GOP conduct yet? Probably not. But we can't let this ploy happen. Not, of course, that our "representative s" pay one speck of attention to anything we say -- unless we can flash them a bundle of cash -- beyond what we already pay them to demean us.
There are glimmers of light coming on, out there, in Americans' understanding of what is happening to us. Much of this has been made possible through the Internet. Lord help us keep it open and free!
+50 # GA_Kennedy 2011-11-09 12:25
The Republicans oppose any legislation that empowers free speech or the ability of the Average American to compete with their corporate paymasters in the realm of communications. That is why the Democrats in the Senate must retain not only their majority but be more aggressive as the bulwark against the corporatist agenda of the Republicans.
+35 # BradFromSalem 2011-11-09 12:48

There's more!

Without net neutrality internet providers will have to install throttles and other data delivery limiters. These limiters will add to the cost of supplying data. There will be hardware investment, software costs to control the limits that tie each piece of data to how much the owner of corporate data is paying to the ISP.

Do you think the corporations will absorb all the costs when they pay for better service? The ISP will want a cut for themselves of this new revenue stream. And since you, the customer, will get your order into Amazon with almost no lag, your ISP cost will rise as well!

So that Amazon, Disney, et al can control the internet you get to pay more.

Ain't unregulated capitalism just the best thing that money can buy?!
-45 # donjo 2011-11-09 13:12
I have been an Al Franken supporter, but he has been conspicuously absent in so many of the protests and recall efforts that it appears he has switched allegiances and become a Republican. Silence isn't always golden.
+41 # steve98052 2011-11-09 16:39
Nonsense. He's been too busy working on policy in the public interest to make a lot of show appearances at protests.

The protesters are out there to influence policy by showing their numbers and their dedication.

Franken is busy in Washington trying to turn progressives' wishes into law. He has the formal right to speak in the Senate. He has an actual vote in the Senate.

Franken doesn't need to protest on the streets, because he's the sort of person the people on the streets need to listen to make things happen.
+3 # Gurka 2011-11-12 03:39
Well spoken, steve98052 !

Franken for president!
0 # lin96 2011-11-10 02:51
I somewhat agree. As a radio host he was always out there for the people. As a Senator he voted for tax breaks for the top 1%. He took a very low profile when he got into Congress. When Bush was President the Republicans were out in full force to support him, but the Democrats are not doing the same with Obama. Their silence is conspicuously deafening.
0 # chick 2011-11-12 18:52
I don't agree, The Clintons, Pelosi, and quite a few others have spoken for him too. Although I wish more would.

Vote Democrat with a big majority and vote out Blue Dog Democrats
Joe Manchin, Amy Klouchar' Ben Nelson, John Tester, Barbara Mikulski They vote Republican more often then what they should as Democrats
+8 # pbbrodie 2011-11-10 07:30
What complete counterproducti ve non-sense!!! Anyone can sign on here and claim to have been an Al Franken supporter but I seriously doubt a real supporter would have written this.

Al Franken speaks for us on the floor of the Senate all of the time and sends out articles such as this alerting people to dangers they face that they may not even realize. The man can't possibly be everywhere at once and must decide where he presence is most effective.
He has been anything but silent. Where have you been, certainly not listening.
The last thing we need is people disparaging our own!
Which leads to the question, are you one of our own or a plant?!
+27 # Vivelevin 2011-11-09 13:19
This must not happen...that corporations take away free speech from millions, maybe billions of people. I am sure someone like Mark Zuckerberg will be fighting tooth and nail to keep the net neutral. We need to remind our Senators that the move to overturn net neutrality is repugnant and unacceptable. Of course Republicans fear people communicating, getting to know each other, wandering around the Internet to see what's happening in other parts of the world...we might all learn to get along and discover we don't need them. And guess what? We don't. I think the next elections for Representatives and Senators will reflect some changes.
+10 # readerz 2011-11-09 14:10
We must still follow the formulae that were set down by the U.S. Constitution: that some very low population states get 2 Senators (and these are mostly very conservative Republican states), while the most populated states still get... 2 Senators. And Representatives are gerrymandered; every ten years they are moved like musical chairs; they neither know their people nor their territory, and many represent more people than the largest of the states in the original thirteen. No, these elections will not reflect any changes UNTIL we revise the U.S. Constitution to give us REPRESENTATIONA L government. I'm the only one saying this so far... does anybody hear?
+1 # chick 2011-11-12 18:55
I also believe the "people" vote should be counted not the electoral votes. They do not always vote the way the people in that state voted.
+27 # Doubter 2011-11-09 13:33
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Thomas Jefferson

"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens , that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government." -- Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837
+6 # readerz 2011-11-09 14:11
Andy Jackson, remover of Native Americans.
+6 # Doubter 2011-11-09 19:59
"Nobody is perfect."
+36 # jwb110 2011-11-09 13:43
I think that the GOP/TP doesn't get the point. You cannot control the 99% forever. I think the GOP/TP are further shooting themselves in the foot. Let me reload that for you boys.
Yesterdays elections have shown that all the throttling and stepping on Constitutional Rights and Privileges of the 99% have come to an end. The Congress, as individual reps for the people, had better decide where they are coming down on these issues.
If you are not with the 99%, then you are against the 99%.
+18 # readerz 2011-11-09 14:15
I'm glad that some issues were defeated yesterday (yeah, Ohio and Mississippi). BUT, at the same time, more states yesterday added voter I.D. requirements, and slipped other measures by, and defeated school levies/budgets in local districts. NEVER assume that we "won" anything, because they'll be back tomorrow trying again to whittle away our rights. They have all the time in the world, because they don't have to work, and all the money.
0 # chick 2011-11-12 18:57
And those were from Republican Governors. If we get a big, big, democratic congress we can kill those laws.
Vote Democrat
+31 # mwd870 2011-11-09 13:46
How refreshing to see an example of a government agency, the FCC, acting in the public interest.

I'm not sure I understand how the Republicans can force a precedural vote when the Democrats never seem to be able to.

This is an important free speech issue and I agree with Sen. Franken it must be stopped. One more issue to put on my list of wrongs needing to be addressed in my letters to Congress.
+11 # JayMagoo 2011-11-09 14:09
It's already happening to some degree. I used to get MediaMatters over gmail, suddenly it stopped. No explanation. I can still get it over another ISP (I won'd say which one) but the right-wingnuts have gotten Google intimidated and Gmail won't deliver MediaMatters any more.
+14 # MainStreetMentor 2011-11-09 15:14
There are several groups across the USA that have emailed petitions to users in an effort to stop the very "attack" that Senator Franken so ably describes. The problem is: Those petitions are "diluted", "watered-down" and dispelled as "crank" petitions - and never reach their intended elected officials. Some of the staffers of Republican reps and Senators "cubby-hole" the petitions even if they ARE delivered. The Republican ploys are incessant and, of course, reek of malfeasance.
+14 # Buddha 2011-11-09 17:04
"But many Republicans want to change that so that the large corporations they represent can increase their profit margins at the expense of small businesses and consumers."

Partly true, but this goes deeper and is more about controlling the political power and speech. Citizens United has created a "pay-to-play" world where the biggest wallet gets the most speech and drowns out the voice and hence political power of the poorest amongst us...the 1% want to extend this to the internet, where the wealthy corporations and blogs can pay for an information superhighway, and less affluent blogs and sites like this are automatically relegated to the web equivalent of a dirt road. This is just another brick in the wall of the Plutarchs controlling all Speech and access to information, a necessary step for their conversion of our nation to a totalitarian state...
+15 # giraffee2012 2011-11-09 18:46
Thank you Al Franken - you and Bernie Sanders and a couple other Senators are true statemen (women - Barbara Boxer & Debbie Wasserman)

Please give the message to Jon Stewart -- and he'll be quoted on all networks.

OHIO -- and Mississippi -- true patriots.

VOTE DEM VOTE OBAMA - get all you can registered EARLY - with mail-in ballots.
+11 # vitobonespur 2011-11-09 21:00
This is just another instance of the 1% trying to wrestle whatever it can take from the 99%.

These damn Conservatives are like tree trimmers trying to cut specific limbs from the "tree of rights." But we need to watch out. If they can't get the limb, they'll try to take the whole damn tree.
+2 # Bimbalina 2011-11-10 01:27
Senator Franken, Thanks for the heads up.

Please file a bill requiring national weekly online voting by the nation's internet users to select the pressing social need of the moment. Require that week's top ten earning corporations to meet those needs for the next seven days. This is the way to get rid of net neutrality and do some good.
+2 # oakes721 2011-11-10 12:25
How Many Googles Does it Take to Screw Up a YouTube?
0 # Gurka 2011-11-12 03:53
Quoting oakes721:
How Many Googles Does it Take to Screw Up a YouTube?

I don't know. But today I received an e-mail supposedly from YouTube, urging me to renew my account or else... I never had any account with them. What is this? Anyone knows?
+5 # sumogrit 2011-11-10 20:24
Al has a point, but it's not the key point. Yes, the Republicans are using the arguments of their telecom clients to attempt to destroy net neutrality. But while it may from the telecom perspective be about profit and loss, that's not the Republican's real game. The most effective answer today to the power of $ in the political process, and the influence of people like the Koch brothers, is a free and open internet. Imagine the Occupy movement without open internet access. That's the real Republican game. The telcom clients are just a convenient smokescreen.
+4 # pernsey 2011-11-11 17:17
GOP stands for Greedy One Percent!
+1 # JST 2011-11-11 17:55
OfFICIAL Bailouts by Dems and Repugs now
totals 13 trillion($ sent to banks and millionairs all over the earth). No wonderthat the US is bankrupted. Corporate takeover of this earth is being completed(corps are people and also criminals).

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