United States International Access Net Neutrality

A New Generation of Media Democracy

I didn’t know the woman on the other end of the line. She was calling from Spain through Skype, a software program that allows people to make free phone calls over the internet, looking for someone with a similar name. Instead of hanging up, we kept chatting. Our spontaneous conversation ranged from politics and relationships to children and Spanish cuisine.

Having the ability to make a free long-distance call on the internet helped connect two people from different cultures. It may also prove to be foundational for a new media democracy.

While the internet will never completely alleviate the problems of Big Media or a society evermore saturated with commercial messages, it does remain a space of hope and possibility. There is something incredibly powerful about a communications network that allows average people to connect directly with each other, relatively independent of corporate or government filters.

An open internet provides an alternative to traditional corporate media and gives a new generation of budding media activists a tangible notion of what a truly democratic media system might look like. Just as importantly, the internet also provides a platform from which we can launch counter-attacks on the existing corporate media system.

But the internet is under siege by the very companies that bring it into our homes and workplaces. Big Telecom corporations, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are threatening to pull away from “net neutrality,” the guiding rule that preserves a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. Net neutrality mandates that ISPs provide a neutral, and thus open, network for people and organizations to publish media and communicate freely. If ISPs defy net neutrality, without repercussion, we could end up with a much more centralized communications network.

**Read the rest of this article: http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/78/net_neutrality.html

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