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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thursday deadline: Protect net neutrality

UPDATE: On April 6, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a ruling that has made this cause more urgent. See below for more information on how this action relates to the court decision.

One of Glenn Beck's latest conspiracies involves a "gang of communists" who want to turn the Internet into a "Marxist utopia." That dangerous gang of communists he's warning Fox News viewers against? They're net neutrality supporters.

Glenn Beck has it all wrong: Net neutrality protects -- not threatens -- free speech online. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet users, not Internet service providers, should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can't speed up, slow down, or block Web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.

The FCC is accepting public comments until Thursday on a proposed regulation that would protect net neutrality. Will you say that you won't be fooled by scare tactics and that you support an open Internet?

We've made it easy to submit a public comment in support of net neutrality. Just use the sample comment at right to craft your own personal comment.

When the FCC initially took comments in January, pro-net neutrality submissions vastly outweighed comments from opponents of Internet freedom. As a result, big telecom companies are running scared. They're worried that the FCC might agree with us and prohibit them from inspecting and filtering the Internet content you access, blocking Web sites and applications they don't like, and overcharging you for using the Web. Out of the 120,000 comments submitted, 98,000 of them - a whopping 74 percent - were from CREDO Action members like you.

The FCC has opened a second round in the comment period. So we need to repeat that performance and beat back the media monopolists once again.

You can help us dominate the second round, too. Submit your comment today!

The big telecom companies have deployed hundreds of lobbyists and pushed outrageous lies. Their goal? Overcome our voices by duping the public into believing their net neutrality myths.

We have only two days to debunk these lies and protect the free-flowing Web, as the FCC is only accepting the second round of comments until April 8. We've made it easy for you to submit your comment on our site -- but we'll need it by 10 a.m. Pacific time on April 8 in order to get it into the docket by the deadline.

Without strong net neutrality rules, we might have to rely upon the good will of large telecoms to protect our access to the diversity of political perspectives. We might have to trust companies like Comcast, which actively and secretly interfered with users' ability to access popular video, photo and music sharing applications; AT&T, which censored anti-Bush comments made by Pearl Jam's lead singer during a concert; and Verizon Wireless, which interfered with NARAL Pro-Choice America's ability to send text messages to its members.

Without net neutrality, the Internet would cease to be a public platform for free speech, political organizing, and equal opportunity.

Speak out against the corporate lies. Submit your public comment today.

Update in reference to Court of Appeals ruling:

In 2002, the FCC, working in alliance with the Bush administration and its corporate backers, went on a deregulation binge. The FCC decided to classify and treat broadband Internet service providers outside of the legal framework that traditionally applied to the companies that offer two-way communications services.

On April 6, the court held that as long as that Bush-era reclassification stands, the FCC lacks the authority to impose on broadband providers certain important regulations, including net neutrality. Because both the D.C. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court are consistent allies of corporations over citizens, it is unlikely that this will be overturned.

Despite the ruling, the FCC can still impose net neutrality rules. But first the FCC must reclassify broadband companies as telecommunications carriers. The FCC has the ability to do this, but it needs to see strong public support to justify revisiting the Bush-era decision. It is now even more urgent that we speak out in support of net neutrality before Thursday's deadline.

For more information, check out articles in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post and a Huffington Post blog from Free Press.

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