McCain’s “Internet Freedom Act” Promotes Anything But

October 23, 2009

Yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bill that would allow Internet service providers to throttle or block content and applications as they see fit. This is an attempt to prevent the “Net Neutrality” you’ve likely heard about, which McCain dismisses as a “government takeover” of the internet.

McCain, who is just “learning to get online [him]self,” introduced the legislation on the same day that the FCC decided to move forward on an official Net Neutrality policy. This bill would prevent that.

If Net Neutrality isn't ensured, telcos may soon be able to block certain websites entirely, or sell content providers faster, ‘premium’ access to their customers. As for the probable results of letting the foxes administer the henhouse, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark put it better than I can:

“Here’s a real world example that shows how this would work. Let’s say you call Joe’s Pizza and the first thing you hear is a message saying you’ll be connected in a minute or two, but if you want, you can be connected to Pizza Hut right away. That’s not fair, right? You called Joe’s and want some Joe’s pizza. Well, that’s how some telecommunications executives want the Internet to operate, with some Web sites easier to access than others. For them, this would be a money-making regime.”

To paraphrase Cory Doctorow in a lecture I don’t care to track down, this, for the consumer, has all the dignity of being traded to another prisoner for a pack of cigarettes. Between Time Warner and AT&T mobile, I shell out nearly $80/month for internet access. For this, I expect the content I want, delivered at the fastest speed the network can manage. I have no interest in becoming fungible currency in an racket to demand higher fees from content providers. I want the Internet I grew up with— the one that’s free as in freedom and free as in beer .

For the moment, we at CFI don’t need to worry about your ISP ’s opinions or interests before posting anything we like on our various web properties. If Senator McCain has his way, that may change. I encourage you all to sign the petition and contact your legislators at savetheinternet.com .

Disclaimer: CFI does not have an official position on this legislation. As with all entries on Free Thinking , the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of CFI. This call to action is a personal plea from a developer who has benefited from a free and open internet.