Mobile Carriers are Moving to Charge per page view as Net Neutrality Vote Awaits

For the past 5 years.. we’ve been relentless about getting information out to our community about Net Neutrality. We’ve written lots of articles and posted up lots of videos on the subject. We know it’s not a sexy subject and for many its hard to understand, yet it’s the most important thing effecting Free Speech. In a nutshell, large corporate interests are on a mission to suppress the flow of information from the masses.

The topic of Net Neutrality being confusing, boring and off-putting has been deliberate. There’s lots of money.. we’re talking billions of dollars if Net Neutrality is deaded. This is why the  big telecoms like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have spent almost a billion dollars lobbying  to get rid of it.

There’s also huge opportunity to make a small handful of anointed people and organizations gilded information gatekeepers or the beneficiaries of huge sponsorship for conventions and other projects provided they saddle up with the telecoms and use their political and social capital to make this a non issue, keep folks in the community confused or in some cases aggressively advocate.

For years one of the strongest supporters of Net Neutrality was Google.. They had promised to never be an ‘evil company’. A couple of months ago they stunned everyone when they sat down with Verizon, one of the strongest proponents of ending net neutrality.. The pair came up with a proposal to bring before the FCC in a last-minute attempt to scuttle a vote by congress on the issue.

In the proposal Google said it was important to keep Net Neutrality in place on PCs, but it was every man  or this case every company for itself in the wireless world.. They proposed getting rid of this protection.  Their proposal drew widespread criticism and set off a firestorm of protests including one that drew several hundred in front of their Mountainview Headquarters. Google insisted that their proposal would work great. Some wanted to believe.

Here we are the day before a historic vote by the FCC to decide whether or not to keep Net Neutrality and now the longer game plans of the telecoms are coming to light. They are already drawing up pricing schemes to start charging cell phone users usage by the page view and by the use of certain features  like using Youtube, Twitter or Facebook. We’ve already seen companies saying they are dropping unlimited data packages. This is why.

The argument these telecoms have put forth has been too much bandwidth is being used.. Thats BS.. What’s their seeing is all these new , faster, more efficient applications being used and the potential for a handful of companies to score big..

we encourage everyone to check out this article laying out some of the details..from Wired Magazine

Sadly deading Net Neutrality goes beyond money. It’s also about maintaining power and influence which has led companies like Google to quietly do things like create a tier system for news and information. Long time Tech columnist Zennie Abraham of pointed this out a few weeks ago when he pointed out that ‘legacy’  (corporate) news outlets were pressuring telecoms and companies like Google to separate their product from blogs who were beating them to the punch in covering and uncovering many stories.

Zennie pointed out that almost overnight thousands of blogs not only lost their traffic, but revenue as Google moved to place corporate backed news operations on the front page of their search engines and blogs and other entities in a another section not readily available or known to the general public.  What’s crazy is that you cant even pull up the several columns that Zennie actually wrote on his own blog. It only shows up on outlets that picked up the story such as Seattle PI which links to this story.

Overnight you found topics that were almost exclusively driven by bloggers disappear only to see corporate back outlets take their place. So take a topic like ‘Oscar Grant‘. You look up his name in Google News and all you see are the mainstream media who was the subject of harsh criticism and even protests by community members for with holding crucial information, demonizing Oscar, being embedded with the police during protests and in recent days being a cheerleader for Johannes Mehserle, the former cop convicted of killing Grant. Almost overnight we no longer saw in Google search engines outlets like Indy Bay which was by far the most popular go to place for Grant information.

The Final Call which covered this extensively disappeared. My two sites disappeared as well as Youth Radio, Oakland Local, Oakland Seen, Block Report, Black Hour and about half-dozen other sites that were doing round the clock coverage.  What get eliminated from the discussion is the investigative work by these independent journalist that discovered Mehserle’s violent past which was pretty much ignored by Mainstream Outlets. What was missing were the stories of innocent people arrested and roughed up by police  who were out during the protests and were umbrelled as rowdy destructive people..

The blogs and independent stories told the harrowing stories experienced by people like Civil Rights attorney Walter Riley and community elder who was arrested in front of his office or Joseph Anderson a journalist who was recently arrested without warning while actually on the air reporting. Those and many other stories disappeared.

Suppression and omission of information is what’s going on as we move in a direction of deading Net Neutrality. If the FCC votes to give control to these corporate giants we can expect to see this increase even more.  Today its the bloggers doing politics, but soon if not already it will be independent artists, whistleblowers and any number of folks who feel they need to get information out  but find themselves handcuffed. This is happening now.. We hope folks pay attention to tomorrows vote there’s a lot at stake.

Be the first to know. The Coalition has set up a streaming website where you can witness the vote as it happens, beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET, Tuesday, Dec. 21:

Watch the vote on Net

Join us online to watch the vote and connect with others. We’ll be hosting an online conversation with hundreds of other Net Neutrality supporters who are working together to protect the open Internet.

Let the FCC know that we’re watching:

If you plan to be in Washington on Tuesday, you can come to witness the vote in person. It’s open to the public. I will be outside the meeting with other Free Press staffers to meet with Net Neutrality supporters and pass out information. Come see us and get an “I Support Net Neutrality” sticker to wear into the meeting:

What: FCC Meeting on the open Internet
Where: Room TW-C305
445 12th Street, S.W
Washington, D.C.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time

(If you plan to attend in person, please come early. We expect a full room.)

More than 2 million people have urged the agency to create real and lasting Net Neutrality protections. We can’t let FCC commissioners turn their backs on us and vote with Comcast and AT&T.

written by Davey D

The AT&Tea Party: We’re in the Business of Silencing People & Net Neutrality

These are indeed strange times we live in where even when we’re repeatedly told we should not be surprised as to what goes down, especially in the world of politics-goes down. It was surprising to learn that AT&T is one of the biggest backers of the Tea Party and together they are working overtime to try to get rid of the Democratizing concept that has made the Internet so powerful called ‘Net Neutrality‘.

I guess one shouldn’t be shocked at the hypocrisy of the Tea Party which claims it takes issue with big corporation but then generously supports their agenda. I’m more upset with Apple which uses AT&T and upset that my hard-earned money which pays for this Iphone is going to uplift a political party that many of feel are racist and in opposition to many of our concerns.

As for Net Neutrality, for those who don’t know about this concept, it essentially says all data is to be treated equal. This means the little blog in the middle of Iowa can be accessed just as easily as the NY Times in NY. All websites are essentially one click away metaphorically speaking.

What telecoms have been doing to the tune of over 100 million dollars in lobbying money in 2009 alone with AT&T leading the way is try to change the basic structure of the internet and re-create the very conditions that drove us away from traditional media to the internet in the first place.  Instead of everyone being ‘one click away’ they want to create a tiered system where websites and companies who pay top dollars are one click away while everyone else could be 2, 3, 4 or not even on the system at all.

This means if I am living in Oakland, California and wish to present additional information to the rest of the country about some important event like the tragic Oscar Grant shooting from 2009 I would no longer be on par with the mainstream outlets.  My information could be slowed down or even blocked.

Hence, someone in NY might click on the Oakland Tribune site and get the information immediately, but it might take a couple of hours or maybe even a day or two to be visible to on my website or the websites Indy media SF, ColorlinesYouth Radio or the SF Bayview. The sad part is that person in NY might not even know this additional information had been slowed down or suspended by AT&T, Comcast or some other ISP that may have a political agenda that they want to carry out that is in stark contrast with your content.

The person on the receiving end of the information will do as they’ve always done since the internet been around and click on a link expecting to move seamlessly from one site to the next. When one site is slowed down or not accessible they move onto another. So again what AT&T wants to do is make sure the NY Times loads up quickly while the small blogger comes up slowly.

When one considers how so many people have been able to come up, challenge traditional media with other facts and various narratives to a story, net neutrality has leveled the playing field.  Unfortunately the big telecoms do not want this..and apprently neither do the Tea Party and several prominent gatekeeping civil rights orgs and politicians they have spent money on.

AT&T sponsored National Urban League Centennial Celebration. Was that part of their strategy to reach out to Civil Right orgs and get them to echo GOP talking points on Net Neutrality?

Initially the Net Neutrality debate was partisan with mostly conservative folks against it. AT&T decided that one of their strategies would be to use their money and influence to get key civil rights leaders to come on board. This may have included generous sponsorships they’ve given folks over the years with everyone from Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push to Marc Morial of the National Urban League whose centennial celebration they recently sponsored.  Their defection and non-commital responses to supporting net neutrality was even welcomed and celebrated by top conservative bloggers like Andrew Breibart the man behind the Shirley Sherrod controversy .

Jackson has noted both in his statement to the FCC and publicly that he and Rainbow Push give ‘voice to the voiceless’. How does one have a voice without Net Neutrality protections?

Even more troubling is seeing members of the Congressional Black Caucus standing alongside the AT&T/Tea Party. How does this happen in 2010 where CBC members were just a couple of months ago complaining about racism where they were called ‘Nigger’ and being spat upon by the Tea Party members, are walking now hand in hand? Oh yeah that happens when big time lobbying money enters the picture. I guess folks can afford  to buy a clean handkerchiefs to wipe away the spit and ‘let bygones be bygones’ as far as the racial insults are concerned as they all stand under the money tree-lined umbrella of AT&T. Peep this article called ‘Hey, Capitol Hill: Who’s Your Daddy ? AT&T‘ to get a better understanding the pervasiveness of this telecom giant.

NAACP head Ben Jealous

AT&T and the telecoms even got Ben Jealous and the NAACP which relied heavily on the freedoms of the internet to launch a campaign to try to save Troy Davis from being executed to take a ‘neutral position on Net Neutrality. Remind me to let Ben know they spelled the word ‘endorse’ wrong in their clarification statement.

In recent days an online petition was put together by Color of Change pushing CBC members to step up and get on the right side of this issue. That would be away from the position of the huge telecoms.

It’s our hope that all of us stop and take a long hard look at what’s going on with Net Neutrality and not allow this important issue to get away from us the way it did when it came to media consolidation.  If you recall, back in the days leading up to that landmark telecommunications bill of ’96 we heard similar arguments from the big media corps on how giving them all this power would be a good thing for consumers. We also saw there were handfuls of Black and Brown folks who tried to jump in bed with the Clear Channels of the world. They were told they would have better opportunities. Have things gotten better since  the Consolidation? Turn on your local radio station and the answer is more than obvious-‘Hell Naw’.

The ‘Clear Channeling of media has been horrific. Again, its the main reason so many of us fled to the Internet. We wanted something better. We wanted our individual voices to be heard.  If we allow the telecoms to gut Net Neutrality with the help of the Tea Party and a handful of civil rights leaders leading the charge we will be talking about what a big mistake this was 15 years from now. Don’t let history repeat itself.

written by Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Court Rule For Comcast Net Neutrality Falls on Our Watch-That’s a Damn Shame!

Just getting word about the FCC being defeated in court against Comcast over the issue of Net Neutrality. The courts ruled that the FCC has no authority to enforce Net Neutrality principles. This now opens the doors for any of the large telecoms like AT&T and Verizon who have spent millions of dollars  lobbying politicians, paying off traditional Civil Rights groups for their silence or advocacy and hand picking ‘pundits to murky the issue by setting up all sorts of distracting debates, to start regulating content. In short, the doors are now open for these telecoms to create toll lanes on the web where the more you pay the faster and more accessible your website, home page etc, to the masses. Here’s the actual decision

The Internet was attractive to so many of us because it leveled the playing field. It allowed the little guy with a good idea to have voice right alongside the mediocre, slow-moving big guy with lot so f money. The net allowed a lot of folks to come up. The principles around Net Neutrality allowed a small outfit like Pandora to smash on the staleness of a Clear Channel. It allowed scores of Indy artists who we got to enjoy at last week’s Paid Dues concert in LA to be just as relevant and accessible as the corporate backed auto-tune drones that made so many of us thankful we could escape via the internet.

The principles of Net Neutrality have allowed scores of grassroots organizations to put up good fights and organize effectively. One example, is Basta Dobbs, the campaign against former CNN host Lou Dobbs that saw 32 cities simultaneously hold press conferences demanding his removal from the airwaves because of his constant racialization of immigrant communities. Organizers acknowledged  that a lot of their success was owed to their ability to reach the masses online.  Today there is a current campaign against CBS and comedian Adam Coralla making disparaging remarks against Filipinos got legs thanks to online efforts and the principles governing Net Neutrality. 

Many of us found out about the Troy Davis case through the Internet

Awareness around death penalty cases like the one involving  Troy Davis  owe much success to the internet spreading. The same with the plight of the Jena 6. Imagine if the students protesting election corruption in Iran were prevented from reaching us here in the US because Comcast or AT&T decided to restrict content? many of us got to know and support their plight because Net Neutrality was in tact. The current student protests here in the US around tuition hikes became known to many thanks to online organizing efforts. There’s a long list of how the little guy was able to make some headway against money, power, position and corporate privilege, thanks to the internet and the Net Neutrality allowing us to reach the masses.

Today’s ruling allowing Comcast and other telecoms to get around Net Neutrality  is bad news on a number of levels. First, it again underscores the power of judges and why we must pay attention in each election to make sure who is in position to appoint and who is actually running to sit on a bench. In this case these were appointed judges. Not sure of their backgrounds as of yet. But we do know the last few unfavorable police rulings like Sean Bell’s killers being acquitted came at the hands of a Bush appointed judge. What were finding is that as elected officials or in this case the FCC do the people’s bidding against the interest of corporations, these companies are running off to the courts which have been stacked over the past 8 years and getting favorable rulings. We can dwell deeper into judgeships on another day.

Second, is that we go through Congress to craft a law specifically protecting Net Neutrality or to grant the FCC authority to regulate and oversee this provision. The challenge is thanks to intense lobby efforts  by the telecoms we may have huge problem. For years, the telecoms have tried everything they could to get things deregulated so they could rush in and start setting up shop. In  previous attempts to allow Congress to grant the FCC such powers to govern Net Neutrality, Congress was stifled by the telecoms…

Sadly former Mayor Shirley Franklin has been among the handful of Black and Brown Civil Right icons doing the bidding of the telecoms who want to get rid of Net Neutrality

AT&T and their lobbying efforts have been a bit more insidious, with them taking advantage of the technological ignorance of many, they’ve been able to exploit the economic hardships experienced in many poor Black and Brown communities by showing up with money in hand to sponsor events, people and needy politicians in exchange for silence or outright advocacy by newly minted handpicked, artificial experts. In other words folks who have been brought off and are now in the pocket stomping for the telecoms. One keen example of this is former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin as outlined in this report Shirley Franklin fronting for the Big Telecoms . The angle Franklin and others of her ilk take around the buzz word ‘digital divide’, making it seem like that if we demand the telecoms back off from this Net Neutrality fight they in turn would not continue to help provide access to marginalized communities.

 This is akin to me showing up at a conference on drug sentencing talking about in order for us to have this discussion we must address the issue of domestic violence. In other words they have very little to do with each other unless we wanna get creative and draw colorful lines to connect the dots as directed by the telecoms or we have a personal financial or political and now increasingly social stake in this.  Some of these big time telecoms have enticed folks by working behind the scenes and elevating their profile of their hand pick pundits making sure they get to be on talk shows or start being seen prominently in the blogasphere.

What’s most frustrating with todays ruling is that after writing, explaining and doing radio shows on this important topic for more than 5 years  there are many within this Hip Hop / urban community who I routinely engage who seem to know more about Ice Cube’s latest dis than they do about the Internet’s governing principles that allowed them to get the information in the first place.

For example, this past weekend in Washington DC there was a Hip Hop Bloggers conference and from what I saw Net Neutrality was mentioned only once  and only by someone from the Future of Music Coalition which has been fighting to preserve it.   While many of my peers waxed poetic about how they garnered fame and followers at a date and time when this important principle was at stake, it was sad NOT to see this as a front a center issue. The irony here is that many of us know a Dallas Penn, Okayplayer  or 2 Dope Boyz more than we know the news reporters working the local beat at a corporate owned newspaper. We know AllHipHop or HipHopDx better than we know the NY Times or Washington Post..

As I long explained, non corporate self-styled journalist, Hip Hop heads, urban youth and snarky college kids gaining a foothold to the masses without going through a high-priced, media gate-keeper was problematic.  Many of us laughed at and took glee over hearing how the local papers were unfolding and how local radio stations were crumbling. We looked at our Iphones,  Ipads and other gadgets and arrogantly proclaimed we were the new kings and queens on the block. We did that while ignoring two basic facts which is 1) power concedes nothing without a vicious fight and many of us were blogging but not fighting. We weren’t fighting by educating ourselves on this issue and we weren’t educating our readers on the importance of preserving the new media arenas that they come to love and depend on while escaping the doldrums and oppressive nature of traditional outlets. Voice was given to the Voiceless on the Internet and Net Neutrality   was and has been the main pillar why.

Second, many of us have long shunned politics. It’s an ugly business. It’s corrupt. It’s far from fair. Many of you have had the privilege to get on an unimpeded internet and share all sorts of theories and perspectives on why politics should be avoided. We know about the Obama Deception movie. We know about the Bildenberg group, We know about Illuminati etc.  All of these perspectives and many more have been freely delivered to the masses of people because of Net Neutrality. However, it’s this corrupt political arena where rules are made and policy shaped. As I remind people daily, many of us live in communities, where street politics, workplace politics are just as ugly yet we take time to know and understand them. We learn when we can wear red and blue. We learn what side we can tip our cap. We learn who is backbiter, ass kisser and saboteur in the office. Engaging politics is not beyond us. But to avoid the politics around something we didn’t build and essentially don’t own in terms of infrastructure, but use everyday is as foolish as going to a neighborhood in LA and not know ‘what time it is’..  

When it comes to Net Neutrality, I realize it’s a boring, complex issue. There is no easy soundbite that adequately explains it, but some of the most important things impacting our lives can’t be explained in a tweet or a Facebook status update.  Us being a headline news society will be the demise of us if we’re not careful. We should never trade away aor allow basic principles to be removed even if we had a work around or alternatives.  Somebody told me they wasn’t tripping off the ruling cause they had enough money to sustain themselves and they knew other work-arounds. That shortsighted thinking of ‘I got mine you better get yours’ is what has wrecked havoc on far too many of us… Hell I could call it a day and not trip my damn self.. I’m good on a number of levels as well. In fact maybe this latest ruling might eliminate a bunch of people and I can be one of the few destination places free of technological impediments. It could be all good until I’m the one being smashed on.

It’s kinda like the Fox News mouthpiece Glen Beck who uses a platform granted by his employer Rupert Murdoch to talk crazy, mislead people and basically try to blow up the spot around Net Neutrality. It’s easy for him be dismissive and hostile, because he’s one of the few privileged folks in the world who has a daily TV talk show. He works for a powerful media mogul who spent the past two or three years buying up all sorts of newspapers and could stand to benefit handsomely if all these ‘pesky’ blogs and upstart news sites suddenly disappeared or simply weren’t able to be as accessible on line as his offerings.  

So what should we be doing? For starters call your Congressperson and tell them you want Net Neutrality. the same way you want clean water coming out your tap.  You can stay up on some of this by checking out my website You can also go to the Center for Media Justice . You can also check out, and Future of Music Coalition

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner