Is The Open Internet Coalition About A Real Democratic Net–or One Safe for Data Collection and Interactive Advertising?

A note of caution about the Open Internet Coalition, which is working on network neutrality issues. Beyond neutrality, we need a broadband medium which fosters privacy, promotes civic engagement and–especially–an online culture where commercialism isn’t the foremost value. We are uneasy about the alliance between public interest groups and Open Internet Coalition members such as Google and Interactive Corp. ( Google’s proposed merger with Doubleclick, as well as the unprecendented series of other new media mergers, raise critical questions about the democratic nature of the online medium. Public interest groups should not be seeking a quick fix for digital communications, such as the Open Internet Coalition. Indeed, without rules governing Google’s expansion, limits on data collection, a strong legal framework for privacy, and policies promoting meaningful open non-commercial civic space, the Internet will be “open” in name only. The Google’s, Yahoo!’s, IAC’s, Microsoft’s, etc. will be working with the phone and cable broadband monopolists on a playing field which still unfairly favors the giants. It will be “open Internet” really operated by the digital denizens working the global Madison Avenue beat. Yes, network neutrality is important to fight for. But it’s just a piece of what should be a meaningful public interest agenda.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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