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Poll: Net Freedom or Limitation?

One important aspect of the complicated issue of net neutrality relates to whether stricter regulations on Internet providers could have an adverse effect on developing new web innovation. Read this opinion below:

Mr. and Ms. Consumer are starting to demand a lot from their Internet. They want on-demand movies. Voice-over-Internet telephone service. Streaming live video. And, very soon no doubt, a lot of data-rich services that we haven't even heard of yet. Those sorts of services will require Internet providers - like, yes, the telecoms and the cable firms - to invest enormously in expanding the pathways for that coming flood of data. If we want movies (and we do) and if we want streaming video (and we do), then someone must pay for the huge infrastructure improvements necessary to deliver those innovative services into our offices and homes. Government-enforced "net neutrality" would stifle that innovation. It would temper the consumer-driven imperative to make the Internet work faster and better."

- "'Net Neutrality' Would Stifle Innovation," editorial, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, June 26, 2006

But Jeff Chester of THE NATION disagrees:

"According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out...If we permit the Internet to become a medium designed primarily to serve the interests of marketing and personal consumption, rather than global civic-related communications, we will face the political consequences for decades to come. Unless we push back, the "brandwashing" of America will permeate not only our information infrastructure but global society and culture as well."

- "The End of the Internet?," Jeff Chester, THE NATION

Learn more about net neutrality here.

What do you think? Answer our poll question then debate the topic below:


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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one confused by the wording of this poll. When it says limiting competition, I thought it meant the huge corporations would limit competition to a few players, thus hurting the internet, America, and the world.

not only is the question confusing it is confusing in a misleading way. we know what net neutrality is, the question should be: are you for or against net neutrality?

Interesting how much criticism Moyers took on web neutrality from Republican operatives, using the service Moyers is trying so hard to protect. One would call that irony--like Bush's remark that if a leader doesn't do what the people want, they will remove him (speaking of Maliki)--but I don't think Republicans understand irony.

Interesting how much criticism Moyers took on web neutrality from Republican operatives, using the service Moyers is trying so hard to protect. One would call that irony--like Bush's remark that if a leader doesn't do what the people want, they will remove him (speaking of Maliki)--but I don't think Republicans understand irony.

Interesting how much criticism Moyers took on web neutrality from Republican operatives, using the service Moyers is trying so hard to protect. One would call that irony--like Bush's remark that if a leader doesn't do what the people want, they will remove him (speaking of Maliki)--but I don't think Republicans understand irony.

I had the same problem with the poll question, so didn't answer it.

My take is that we need to have less control of the media in all forms by the corporatists, who will NEVER be satisfied with what they have. That is just who they are. So, we might as well take some away from them for the rest of us to have, and prevent them from getting more.

Consolidation is NOT a good thing, it kills competition. The corporations HATE competition.

By the way, let's not confuse capitalism with competition, they are two entirely different things. Capitalists hate competition and try to get rid of it as much as possible. We should foster competition, and create as much as possible to counteract the influence of the corporatists.

In 2001, a small radio operator for forced by "big radio" to sell in Chico, CA. The FCC should restrict ownership to communications towards the way it was before expanded ownership was allowed. Otherwise, we face brainwashing of too many for too long. Could "big radio" be the elusive weapon of mass (democratic) destruction?

This ballyho program over LPFM is symptomatic of the failure of "public media" to keep up on the actual situation. All media is public media. Coming soon is further blurring of the lines between media and propaganda. There are things happening NOW that will sculpt the American psyche in coming decades. Moyers knows not about them , from his illusion to a seperation between broadcasting and the Internet. At issue is the emergence "new media" that is decades coming; multipoint distribution services, or WiFi mesh networks.
There was, to my recollection, no mention of the FCC's 700 Mhz broadcast spectrum auction upcoming in January 2008. Nor anything about the "white space" reassignment of spectrum, favored buy Google, to provide us all with FREE High Speed Internet access. Nor a word about the notion given today, in industry publications, that video is already "clogging up" the Internet.
The price tag to play in these areas, thanks to FCC actions during and since Regan, is way beyond reasonableness; so it is of paramount public interest that the FCC insure "the public interest" is served directly here.
I see no indication that the mental log-jam and "black box" mentality is about to change.
The lip service given by Moyers, Karr, Sussaman, and Commissioner Cobb to "the open discussion of issues" and "benefits of such discussion" may give our Republic is moot and a little silly. It is inconsequential, and serves only feeds segway to further pitch for more money to endorse the power that nearly killed LPFM. Who is PBS anyway?
LPFM is not the issue. Content is. New Media looks to me like Old Media until something new happens. And the question is. "Will it?"
It is simplistic to say that mega-media restricts thought. It homogenizes it. And this nothing new. The only thing new is the restrictions of media have been liberated; print now has infinite space and live media has eternal time...on the Internet.
"The Big Black Boxes;" ATT, Clear Channel, WalMart, Home Depot and the other Big Boxes; remain as obstacles to anything that may alter their market share. And New Media may do this if the FCC finds "the political will" to do the right thing and actually act "in the public interest." Only this may provide a means to realize any sense of right this great nation needs to conduct itself in a manner that re-initiates a rebirth of personal and public righteousness. The majority of leadership over the past 20 years has all but murdered that concept.
The new "bottom line" has to do with real domestic terrorism. When the consequences of hurtfull media become motivation to action, we may see in this country far worse than we see today in Iraq. While I do not want to engage in or experience violence, nor do I endorse it, I do warn of precursors already in play. At this rate, it may soon become, like suicide bombers, a political necessity. And the conduct of media takes the Lion's Share of the blame. But not all of it.
This year's overly expensive and long Presidential election becomes more tedious as buzz word issues are commonly realized to have absolutely nothing to do with what everyday American life needs now. And the few issues that don't play on individual emotionalism will be measured as too controversial; when the utter lack of such wisdom is the very root of the entire problem.
There is only one real issue: weather or not government is going to build out our collective needed infrastructure; like, for example, muni-WiFi or WiMAX mesh structures.
We may then talk to each other in a public manner for a token cost, with high degrees of security, and via channels that need not depend on formatting according to commercial needs.
The rest is bullroar and will make good movie plots but terrible politics.

I would rather return to using Smoke Signals rather than turn the technology over to the military dictatorship currently ruling this nation's ONCE free press.

In one year the FCC will decide if the large telephone co's will be taking over the internet They will be able to decide what you can and can not do on the internet,thus eliminating many of the freedoms of communication you are now enjoying. They are already eliminating many small town radio stations. I don't know if we,the people, will have a congress representing us,or the gov't,but we should keep apprised of the situation to stop it from happening.

Nothing is going to stall innovation. Radio wanted to kill television; record companies wanted to kill the iPod and peer-to-peer file sharing. It won't happen. The technology will always win out. The telecom companies make plenty to maintain the infrastructure necessary for free net access. We already give them advantages in using the public airwaves.

Net neutrality is an absolute necessity for a free society. We've already let our news organizations become consolidated to the point that no actual news gets through on TV. We need to keep the net free and open. Industry will always whine that it needs more control, and we're idiots if we let them have it - they stand to make money, but we stand to lose freedom. Let them be satisfied with the fact that they're allowed to do business at all - the government could just as easily nationalize said infrastructure, then no one would make profits and everyone would be served at a fraction of the costs we now pay. The Telecom companies better be glad they have what they have. I have no sympathy for the greedy bastards.

If there is a poll on: "Do you agree this poll question - limiting competition for the Internet - is confusing?" the answer will be a resounding YES! Remove it now.

The telecom business must have forgotten about the billions of dollars in tax incentives they took in the 90's and still take to this day to build network capacity up to what countries such as Sweden, Japan and South Korea enjoy. It's time for the government to step in and build it for them so ISP's can actually innovate and compete for customers without massive investment into infrastructure that results in virtual monopolies on broadband markets. Telecom companies have actually sued municipalities that have tried to make city wide fiber nets a public utility.

The internet should be considered as vital as roads and be a basic utility service available to anyone. It's one of the last public forums that anyone can access that hasn't been turned upside down by quaterly profits.

I took a class recently on the history of American television. I was surprised to find that the full first third of the class was dedicated to the birth and development of American radio. The professor's point was that it would be impossible to understand the form that television took in the U.S.(as compared to most other countries) without understanding its regulatory/commercial roots in radio.

The gist being:

In the early days of radio, virtually everything was experimental. Everything was point-to-point, 'user-generated' content. Individuals were innovating daily, finding out just how far the new technology could be pushed. They were using homemade transmitters and receivers, which they fashioned out of coffee cans and bits of copper wire. They sent out glorious sound through the air from small towns and big cities all over the country.

In the beginning, the airwaves were filled with content as divers as the American people. Commentary, news, entertainment, and just plain old chatting ruled the day.

Before long, a bright young man named David Sarnoff (future head of RCA) realized that if somebody could broadcast from a single location out to everybody else, he could make a bundle of money (and wield enormous power) in the process.

RCA, at the time, was primarily interested in selling radio receivers- they wanted to replace all of the coffee cans with their own models.

RCA lobbied Congress hard. (Quite successfully as it turns out.) Long story short, virtually all of the individual users who were generating content ended up getting shut down- even educational institutions found that their broadcasts had no place in the new paradigm.

The government cited concerns about ensuring quality and "protecting the common good".

Almost overnight, all of those individual voices were silenced. And one booming voice took their place.

Out of RCA came NBC, then ABC and CBS. And the rest, as they say, is history. It took decades before public broadcasting found its place.

And so the bottom line is:

If you ever find yourself wishing for a little more than network news and Bingo shows, if you ever wanted a little more NewsHour and a little less Situation Room, you would do well to keep a close eye on the Verizons and Viacoms involved in this debate.

Somebody stands to gain an awful lot by consolidating the internet...I'm just not sure it's you and me.

In my opinion, the internet has grown due to it's easy access of information, equiping internet-filled homes with tools at the speed of life. What could possibly be gained by slowing down access to non-paying participants except some sort of financial gap? The internet has brought a senese of community in Forums and IMs that are free-based sites that shout out a freedom of speech and press that flow from each typist's fingertips. It seems more true that at every corner there's a business ad lurking at your subconscious. You open your "free" email account, and there's a pop up screaming, "YOU'VE JUST WON..." Now.. damn... I have an ipod. Not much is free these days. If we start auctioning off thoses basic rights, who knows when the next route of free communication will come? I should have a right not to be bombarded by ads. My spam blocker says so...

Neutrality in the media? LOL! Hey Fox, us non-Republicans see that your "Fair and Balanced" network is a shill for billionaire media mogul Murdoch's conservative agenda. We're out. Have a nice life with yourself.

The top three Democrats seeking the nomination -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards -- already indicated they would not participate in the debate, which is being cosponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.>

I didn't vote in the poll because I didn't understand the question. The two short articles that talked about net neutrality did not explain whether net neutrality went with freedom or limitation. I want people to be able to use the net the way we do now, not be limited by new rules that would keep us from being able to communicate as well. So am I for or against net neutrality?

I am very much in favor of net neutrality. I DO NOT want to see the telcoms giving preferential treatment to websites that they favor either for political reasons or because they collected money from them. I don't want to see an artificial, self-appointed gatekeeper to decide which websites I will be able to access quickly and which ones will be harder to access. I find it extremely offensive that some corporation could be given the power to decide which websites should be highlighted and which websites should not. Excuse me but I'll decide what I think is a good website. I don't need Corp. America profiting by denying me access to what I want to view.

I too would like to say that I agree with Steve S., this seemed terribly worded and quite one sided.

I also agree with Steve S. It's a surprise to see this kind of one-sided quote followed by a poll question. The issue of net neutrality is confusing for many and the opponents of it use this confusion to their advantage with ads which don't mention the corporate influence behind opponents of net neutrality, depicting "net freedom" as some grassroots issue.
I would expect the Bill Moyer's blog to offer quotes and explanations from both sides of the issue before asking poeple to vote in the poll.

i agree with the last comment by Steve S. this "poll question oversimplifies the issue and the article quoted is misleading." in fact, the proponents of Net Neutrality are arguing for the freedom of innovation, freedom from censorship, and preserving internet standards.

this is a complex issue which cannot be captured by a one-sided quote and a misleading question.


Let me know if we ever get free market competition for internet connections. Right now, I have three choices: dialup over my phone line (can go anywhere, but extremely slow), DSL over my phone line (goes through the bottleneck of my telco, though I'm fortunate enough to still have some choice of ISPs), and cable. If the entities controlling these bottlenecks decide to give me service I don't like, I don't have a lot of choices about taking my business elsewhere. Putting less regulation on the people controlling the bottlenecks is what threatens to stifle innovation.

The poll question oversimplifies the issue and the article quoted is misleading. During the .com boom there were lots of companies and telcos laying lots of fiber optic cable, the main conduits used by the internet, so much of the infrastructure is already in place for transmission. The content providers will need more equipment to fill the demand for streaming movies & videos, but that will be paid for by subscribers to the service.

One of the big questions in Net neutrality is access to the closed networks (transmission lines). Should a company that owns the transmission lines be forced accept competition from other providers on their lines, in the name of free markets?

I would expect more thorough information and a better worded question from something with Bill Moyer's name on it than what is offered here for net freedom or limitation. I think it is safe to say that human nature, at least in the US culture, wants more freedoms and less limitations, at face value, but what does that really mean, more freedom and less limitaions.

Another facet to consider is the quality vs quantity aspect; as the old song refrain goes :... 500 hundred channels and there's nothing on...;" last I heard 69-70 percent of all web sites were porn, is that what we want?

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