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 Internetâ€™s health. For example, Verizonâ€™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. â€œâ€¦I believe,â€ he said, â€œthere is now an emerging consensusâ€ thatâ€™s itâ€™s all about consumers, reported Communications Daily [Aug. 23, 2006. Subscription only]. He said that calls for â€œnon-discriminationâ€ were coming from advocates of â€œold rulesâ€ (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 â€œwould oppose any bill with strong net neutrality language.â€ Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert chimed in that there was â€œno need for Congress to act where thereâ€™s no problemâ€¦â€
Bolstering the industryâ€™s jeremiad was the chief staffer for House Commerce chair Joe Barton. Howard Waltzman predicted, â€œthere would not be a bill sent to the president that included [non-discriminatory net neutrality requirements] because the House would not agree to it.â€ Waltzman, the majority chief counsel, also proclaimed that â€œthe Snowe-Dorgan amendmentâ€ requiring net neutrality would fail in the Senate.
These are the peopleâ€”along with their bossesâ€”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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