Telco CEOs to the Internet: We Own You and You Will Never Be Free

Top execs from Verizon, Qwest, and the USTA lobbying machine attacked the concept of network neutrality yesterday. They spoke at the annual lobbyist love-fest run by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. The exec remarks make clear that the leadership of the U.S. telephone industry is hazardous to the Internet’s health. For example, Verizon’s Tom Tauke dismissed concerns about what will happen to our democratic rights now that neutrality is lost. For the former Congressman turned top lobbyist, there are only consumer interests. “…I believe,” he said, “there is now an emerging consensus” that’s it’s all about consumers, reported Communications Daily [Aug. 23, 2006. Subscription only]. He said that calls for “non-discrimination” were coming from advocates of “old rules” (he meant the policies that made the Internet an open forum]. Meanwhile, the chief of the United States Telecom Association–Walter McCormick–said that his members “would oppose any bill with strong net neutrality language.” Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert chimed in that there was “no need for Congress to act where there’s no problem…”

Bolstering the industry’s jeremiad was the chief staffer for House Commerce chair Joe Barton. Howard Waltzman predicted, “there would not be a bill sent to the president that included [non-discriminatory net neutrality requirements] because the House would not agree to it.” Waltzman, the majority chief counsel, also proclaimed that “the Snowe-Dorgan amendment” requiring net neutrality would fail in the Senate.

These are the people—along with their bosses—who are placing the business plans of a few special interests before everyone else now online. Web 2.0 will be shaped to fit their image of broadband unless they are stopped.

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