via the Center for Digital Democracy :
During the days of the slow, dial-up modem, the Internet--because it ran over telephone wires--was regulated by telephone's common-carrier rules: a network is required by law to be open to all communications traffic, and to treat all information in a fair and non-discriminatory fashion.
These were the rules that formed the foundation for a new media capable of producing the most diverse content in the history of mass communication. These were the rules that allowed the birth of nearly 7,000 Internet service providers (ISPs), as well as millions of Web sites of every conceivable variety.
But these rules that protected open access and the democratic architecture of the dial-up Internet do not apply to cable and satellite high-speed (broadband) Web access. And telecom companies are lobbying hard on Capitol Hill for deregulation to end their open access requirements.
An Internet without open access requirements would hardly resemble the Internet as we know it today. Without such requirements, the power to discriminate would be given to those who control the conduit--the few gigantic service providers that will remain. They would have gatekeeper status--the ability to dictate whether content gets to the user via the fast lane or the slow lane. It is a near certainty that the faster service would be given to the affiliated content within the "walled gardens" (the first portal that the user is taken to), while nonaffiliated content outside the walls would be left with slower speeds and poorer service.
Such an Internet would more closely resemble the limited choice of cable television rather than the varied options of the World Wide Web. Nonprofit groups, public interest coalitions, and independent artists (to name just a few) would be relegated to second-class status, leaving the Net in the hands of corporate interests.
more via MoveOn.org (thanks Amy!):
Do you buy books online, use Google, or download to an Ipod? These activities will be hurt if Congress passes a radical law that gives giant corporations more control over the Internet.
Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. Amazon.com doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer.
Politicians don't think we are paying attention to this issue. Many of them take campaign checks from big telecom companies and are on the verge of selling out to people like AT&T's CEO, who openly says, "The internet can't be free."
The free and open Internet is under seige--can you sign this petition letting your member of Congress know you support preserving Network Neutrality? Click here:
A list of all the ways you might be affected by Net Neutrality is located on the bottom of this link: http://civic.moveon.org/alerts/savetheinternet.html
1. "Telecommunication Policy Proposed by Congress Must Recognize Internet Neutrality," Letter to Senate leaders, March 23, 2006
2. "AOL Blocks Critics' E-Mails," Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2006
3. "B.C. Civil Liberties Association Denounces Blocking of Website by Telus," British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Statement, July 27, 2005
4. "At SBC, It's All About 'Scale and Scope," BusinessWeek, November 7, 2002
5. "Net Losses," New Yorker, March 20, 2006
6. "Don't undercut Internet access," San Francisco Chronicle editorial, April 17, 2006