The public debate over Net Neutrality has heated up in recent days. The issue - which famously caught the attention of Minnesota Democrat Senator Al Franken - pits big government up against big business and concerned citizens.
AT&T said in a statement yesterday that any attempt to stop them from engaging in their plans to institute paid prioritization would "would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet."
Free Press research director Derek Turner, one of the most powerful proponents of Net Neutrality, quickly fired back at AT&T’s claim by stating that "a ban on paid prioritization is the DNA of the open Internet."
Free Press has been leading the charge to influence the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act in favor of preserving what they believe is a "free and open" Internet.
However, the public squabbling turned aggressive after Free Press sent two letters to the FCC advising the board that it would be a massive mistake to let AT&T prioritize data in favor of the highest bidder.
In a press release today, Turner accused the FCC of dragging its feet on the issue of Net Neutrality.
He said the FCC "continues to kick the can down the road and prolong this process, but the longer the FCC ponders the politics of Net Neutrality, the longer consumers are left unprotected."
One of the primary arguments for Net Neutrality is that if the politicians allow the gigantic telecom companies to regulate themselves they will pull a Wall Street and make information like the best stocks, only available to the rich.
Free Press also argues that what AT&T wants to do would put up walls and created a tiered Internet. This would lead to a fast lane for data and a slow lane. The fast lane would be very costly and make the free spread of information and ideas only available to socio-economic elite.
While some might disagree, Free Press makes a compelling argument. Such a scenario could be the beginning of a whole new Internet. Political pressure could lead to The First Amendment on the Internet only being accessible to those who can generate the capital to join the oligarchy.
And to those who support AT&T in their endeavor, and misinterpret the definition of "free market economics," keep in mind that AT&T’s growth was not the product of their superior business acumen.
AT&T and similar companies grew into the powerful giants there are today because of favorable legislation. Such legislation did not involve the public in its crafting - which occurred behind closed and locked doors.
Only a select few had a say in the drafting of the laws which allowed AT&T to buy up more and more media and keep their competitors from entering the market because of its insanely high startup cost.
Clearly, the battle over Net Neutrality is one of the most important technological, political, social, and economic issues ever.
The way things look right now AT&T, Free Press, and many concerned citizens all over the country are going to force the FCC to assert their power in ways we have never seen before.