This week is the 7th annual Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote openness in government and freedom of information. The initiative was spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors. Sunshine Week is non-profit and non-partisan.
Never before in the history of our Nation has the public’s “right to know” been in greater jeopardy. Despite arguments to the contrary, I do not believe that the public’s “right to know” is synonymous with the mere fact that we have access to, admittedly, unbelievable amounts of information on the Internet. A “right to know” implies a right to know what is true and not true, accurate and inaccurate. Sadly, what is truth, spin or utter fiction is getting harder to discern, particularly in mainstream television news outlets.
When it comes to the Internet, there are few issues I feel more strongly about than Net Neutrality. I have written about it both here and over at & Wrongs. It is this century’s civil rights issue because this is the Digital Information Century. Therefore, it is important that we use the power of the Internet to promote Sunshine Week principles.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading advocate on digital civil rights issues, has taken monumental steps to promote Sunshine Week. Among other important victories, EFF obtained 50 documents “related to records of meetings or discussions between FCC officials and representatives of telecommunications, cable, and Internet companies and organizations concerning potential net neutrality regulations.” In short, these are records of lobbying attempts for and against Net Neutrality.
Having such documents available to the public is vital for many reasons. In particular, such records would not, necessarily, be available to the public in the ordinary course of events. In fact, EFF’s site states that the FCC documents were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) project that EFF spearheads.
In addition, these documents may shed great light on the players who are acting to promote – or prevent – Net Neutrality. This is important because much of what is being reported about Net Neutrality confuses who is for it, against or even what it means. Hopefully, these documents will shed some light on who is lobbying and for what.
If you would like to read more about Net Neutrality, a good starting point is this Wikipedia article. The article does not cover all aspects of the subject in complete detail, but it does give a reasonably good start to your research and self-education.
If you are interested in the FCC documents themselves, they are in the Cyber-Box as PDF downloads entitled Net Neutrality and Net Neutrality Response Letter. A letter that was sent by a team of economists on p. 31-32 of the Net Neutrality download is especially informative. In my opinion, it authoritatively corrects many of the mistaken ideas of what Net Neutrality is and what any regulations would do.
If the Republican-led House has anything to say about it, Net Neutrality will go down in defeat. As Huffington Post reported yesterday, The House Commerce Committee voted 30-23 along party lines Tuesday to overturn the FCC’s new “net neutrality” regulations, which aim to prevent broadband providers from becoming online gatekeepers.
Not surprisingly, Republicans are protecting the same fat cats they always protect, while spinning a song-and-dance game of deception by telling the American public they are protecting you from Big Government. In fact, what Republicans are doing is hobbling the one agency with authority for preventing unfair, deceptive and restrictive behaviors by the real danger to American democracy – the Mega-Corporation.
Who do you think wants to dismantle the current Net Neutrality rules? If you don’t know the answer to that, you should take some time to learn. The answer will not necessarily surprise you, but the ways in which they may change the Internet forever are startling.
If you want to get involved in the Net Neutrality campaign, I invite you to visit SaveTheInternet.com. You can see the badge here on Cyber-Esq. at the top of the sidebar.
- Sunshine Week 2011 and Our Ongoing Commitment to Open Government (whitehouse.gov)
- House Panel Moves Forward To Repeal Net Neutrality Rules (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sunshine Week Events (nsarchive.wordpress.com)
- IAC Chief: We Should Be ‘Screaming’ For Net Neutrality (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sen. Al Franken seeks Net neutrality support at SXSW (cnet.com)