Save the internet

Often when I read about some trend in the USA, or elsewhere overseas, I wonder if the same sort of thing is happening in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Save the Internet clip, which you can link to on YouTube above, is about a campaign by citizens in the USA to resist corporate efforts to control the Internet.

AT&T, TimeWarner and other corporations are lobbying for legislation in the United States that would overturn the founding principal of an open and free the Internet. Currently the core principle for governing the Internet is network neutrality, or “net neutrality” for short. Net neutrality means all webpages, email and electronic exchanges are treated equally. The Internet is just a pipe that allows data to flow.

However, some of these big corporations want to be able to decide which web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all. Save the Internet say the corporations “want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.”

Now, I’ve got a couple of questions: will decisions in the USA impact on NZers ability to surf freely? And secondly, are the dominant telecommunications companies in New Zealand seeking similar lucrative amendments to the rules that govern our internet space?

I’m going to do a bit of digging around to try and find out what I can. So expect an update soon.

BTW: What got me started on this? Well, most weeks I listen to Laura Flanders on her incendiary weekly radio programme RadioNation, which is a godsend for keeping in perspective what happens in the USA (ie there’s lots of good folks working for a just planet). On her 17 January 2007 show she broadcast live from the third National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis Tennessee. Amongst her interviewees was Jeff Chester whose book Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy exposes the industry’s “vision” for our digital future, where the promise of the new media is made subservient to a narrow, self-serving agenda. Jeff is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, which is spearheading campaigns and research to preserve the openness and diversity of the Internet.