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Dogs, Cats, And Net Neutrality

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-05

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Net Neutrality was interesting enough because of the opposing punditries that kissed and made up (for this battle anyway), but the Parents Television Council (PTC) soldiering alongside Democrats? Verizon sponsoring sessions at the Small Business Summit?

Maybe Bill Murray in Ghostbusters was right. The end of the world will have "dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!"

Not to say that the Net Neutrality issue is partisan, supporters are multiparty, and at least one of the chief opponents (who just so happened received a little cash from AT&T) to the idea is a Democrat. It's just that in Congress, Republicans have been the loudest detractors of the "free and open internet" idea, throwing their trust, weight, and account numbers behind the telecoms. Most of those voting in favor of the Markey Amendment last week did happen to be Democrat.

But when the Parents Television Council drops its assault on all things "indecent," and steps a way from more conservative agendas for a few minutes to put some oomph behind the same boulder as MoveOn.org, it makes one curious. Maybe it's their love affair with all things regulated to their tastes that drives them - they're big fans of the FCC and this is an opportunity to expand its reach. After all, the FCC can be completely trusted, right?

But it is supreme irony that they'd pick this particular side of the debate. After all, if the telecoms created their two-tiered system, it'd be much easier to censor the Internet and the dens of smut lurking at every fourth onramp. But then again, that two-tiered Internet could get them censored as well (another amazingly ironic thought), or at least gum up the channels they rely on for their email campaigns.

"The PTC and other special interest groups worry their email campaigns might get bogged down in slower 'public internet' while faster service is reserved for those paying 'priority access' rates."

Congressional Republicans, says WSJ.com' Amy Schatz, "are loath to interfere with the market by dictating to Internet providers how to run their businesses." Typically, interference is reserved for broadcasting, and a few other select industries.

Just as interestingly ironic is that Verizon and Bell South are some of the most visible sponsors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (CoC) Small Business Summit. Many were beginning to think that small businesses couldn't be seen from the heights at which they stand. But then again, marketers have that uncanny ability to be omnipresent - even to sneak under the shouting from small business and consumer groups aligning against Ma Bell over Net Neutrality.

Maybe they thought no one would notice the thick ironic air as they sponsor and sit on a CoC panel aiming to answer the questions like: "How will broadband attract small business customers? And, how should the regulatory framework encourage pricing competition?"

It's almost as fun as finding out (unless he's caught on in recent years) that AT&T's CEO, majorly not Net neutral, is nearly computer illiterate and "doesn't do email." Oh, Irony, you dirty mistress!

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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