Is Comcast planning to censor the internet? Reports surfaced earlier this week a Comcast business partner ordered the editor of NewsOne to remove a story about Comcast funding Civil Rights groups that are lobbying the FCC to allow Comcast to restrict its customer’s access to some internet content. This move comes ahead of the FCC’s September 10 deadline and decision on whether to allow internet service providers to create so called “internet slow-lanes” for some content. Proponents of net neutrality believe that people should be allowed equal access to all internet information, regardless of whether it has been approved by the cable companies and internet service providers.
Democracy requires access to information. Some fear that without net neutrality, the five companies that control 70% of the U.S. market (AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Centurylink) will allow full access only to dumbed down cable news type content. Presently 65% of Americans have only two wired broadband providers to choose from and 39% have no choice at all. Adding to the concern is that Comcast is in the midst of acquiring Time Warner Cable, which will give Comcast control of 2 out of every 5 U.S. internet connections.
Net neutrality is in danger. The FCC is presently considering rules that may allow ISPs to put content providers that do not pay a toll, or partner with the ISP, into a “slow lane.” The deadline for submitting your comment on the issue to the FCC is September 10. The email address for comments is firstname.lastname@example.org. I recently submitted this comment:
Subject: Slow Lanes are Censorship
Dear FCC Commission Considering Proposed Rules to Protect an Open Internet,
I am very concerned that internet slow lanes will be used to censor content that is not friendly to ISPs and the interests of their shareholders and partners. You may believe that allowing slow lanes, while prohibiting censorship of specific content will prevent censorship by the 4 to 5 ISP companies that control wired broadband access to the internet. I strongly disagree. 6 companies control American’s access to news through cable, and they do not provide access to the news that I currently get on the internet. To the extent that the same stories are covered, I routinely see that critical details are omitted, and important stories minimized and drowned out by fluff and opinion. I also see a parroting effect on cable news, where the statements of government officials and industry “experts” are reported uncritically in the place of what is now called “investigative journalism” (I just call it “real news”). I see no reason to believe that the 4 to 5 ISP companies that control access to information through internet fiber will treat the internet any differently than the 6 companies that control access to information through Cable TV. I recently read that one of Comcast’s partners ordered its internet news provider to remove a story about Comcast’s FCC lobbying efforts regarding net neutrality. Alarmingly, I have recently learned that 5 states have (and more are on the way to having) laws preventing cities from laying internet fiber that would compete with the big 5. Please do not allow internet service providers to slow or restrict access to information on the internet. Please protect net neutrality.
Edward S. Alexander, U.S. Citizen