Monday, June 19, 2006

An open reply to Congressman William Lacy Clay

My vote was cast with the majority. "Net neutrality", as defined by the FCC, requires consumers' free access to any legal content, applications and devices of their choice. It also reduces the threat of gatekeepers over new content and services. In order to safeguard net neutrality, the bill contains language giving the FCC authority to intervene on a case-by-case basis, if such violations are alleged. These components and more eliminate the need for restrictive or premature "net neutrality" provision.

I personally disagree with your assessment of the protection provided by the base COPE Act. While I understand that you may disagree with the current language of the "Net neutrality" amendment, passage of the COPE Act without SPECIFIC language PREVENTING scaled-fee/rate-based-charge by the telecommunications provider levied on content providers will effectively allow discrimination of the right-to-publish based on economic means of the provider. In addition, such scaled-fee/rate-based-charges allow a second charge above and beyond what said providers are already paying for the bandwidth they use.

The language does protect the cosumer's right to recieve information, but does NOT sufficiently protect the right of publishers of that information. What good does it do for me to freely access information at a (intolerably) slower rate, merely because the publisher doesn't have deep enough pockets to pay MORE for services they've already paid for in terms of the datarate agreements and connection sizes thier provider is already contractually obligated to provide? Moreover, can you not see the danger of each level of provider layering more and more charges to those under, ending when the two or three providers at the top of the Internet peering hierarchy collecting money from everyone and benefitting no one.

The stated reason for a scaled-fee/rate-based-charge is to "make the publisher responsible for the largest bandwidth use pay for the privilege of higher-rate delivery". This is completely against what the Internet was, and continues to be, about... free access to information and the right to publish content that the CONSUMER pays to access, and the PUBLISHER pays to provide, through line connection fees and bandwidth-related charges. A delivery-rate-based charge is just another way to extract money from the publisher, and will erect barriers to publishers that cannot afford a higher quality of service. This discrimination will prevent publishers (and even individuals) from being able to publish merely based on financial means.

The aforementioned components and initiatives of the COPE Act-economic growth, universal access, anti-redlining, and "net neutrality" safeguarding-are key to allowing Internet access to grow and remain unimpeded.

The key to the growth of access to the Internet is NOT to allow the carriers one more loophole by which they can charge the publishers to provide the delivery of data that BOTH the publisher and consumer have ALREADY paid for in terms of the connection and data rates purchased.

Experience tells us that if you do NOT prevent this extortionary charge, the bandwidth providers will charge the publishers, and that this kind of charge (for services already provided) will be levied at every level, ultimately eliminating the free and open access to information that makes the Internet such a powerful source of information and innovation.

Please reconsider the importance of this CRITICAL amendment to an otherwise good legislation. Your failure to add SPECIFIC language to prevent this pay-by-rate charges will be considered a failure of you to represent me in an area near and dear to my heart. I would be hard-pressed to support you in further elections.

Sincerely, Marc C. Brooks

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