Save the internet!
Some large US telecom corporations want to change the basic rules of the internet in a way that would be bad for those of us who run or use websites.
Right now, you the internet user have access to any site you want. Internet service providers aren't allowed to discriminate against sites, and are required to give you equal access to any site on the web.
A coalition of large corporations, including AT&T, Verizon and others, want to change that for people in the US.
They want to make the internet like cable tv, where they choose which services and websites you can access, where they make you pay more to get to the sites you want, and they make sites pay them money if they want people to be able to access them. So for example, if my website doesn't pay internet service providers a monthly fee, it may be very difficult or impossible for you to access or even find it. (Here's an article that briefly summarizes the issue: "Kiss your bookmarks goodbye?" See also this FAQ on the issue from savetheinternet.com: FAQ on net neutrality)
The internet service providers are claiming that this is about "consumer choice" and preventing "government regulation." They are using a political strategy called "grassroots lobbying," with which I am very familiar, having worked for such an outfit twenty years ago. (In short, it's a way to pull a scam on the public by portraying a corporate money grab that is bad for consumers as being "pro-consumer".) In fact it's the opposite: It's about getting more money for the companies and less choice and freedom for us, and making us pay for it. They want to stop the government from enforcing "network neutrality" rules that make sure all websites are treated equally by internet providers.
Fortunately though some people are working to keep the internet open and working the way it does now.
Our own Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is one of the people on Capitol Hill who is working on our side of this issue, in the Senate, with Ed Markey of Massachusetts doing the same in the House.
For more information on this issue please visit this website: Save the Internet, and then contact your Representatives and Senators.
Don't be taken in by the telecom corporations' claims that they want to "help the consumer." When you hear that kind of talk the first thing you need to do is check your pocket to see if your wallet is still there!
Thanks for helping to save the internet!
Update January 2007: In the new session of Congress, Senator Snowe and Sen. Dorgan (D-ND) have introduced the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act" that would ensure net neutrality. Call your Senators and ask them to support this bill in the Senate.
Update #2, March 2007: For those of you who live in Maine, State Sen. Ethan Strimling of Portland has introduced a bill in the State legislature to ensure Net Neutrality in the state, bill number LD 1675. See the Maine Internet Freedom website, and a recent editorial in the Bangor Daily News, "Net neutrality essential to Maine economic future" for more info. Reportedly telecom lobbyists are now hurriedly flocking to Augusta to try to kill the legislation. Contact your state senators and representatives and tell them to support Sen. Strimling's bill to ensure net neutrality!