Saturday, March 29, 2008

How to be a quiet crusader for Net Neutrality - meet Ben Scott

In January, my blogging buddy, Chris Borland, and I decided Net Neutrality is the most important issue and that we would collaborate on keeping it at the top of the heap of all the issues we both care about. It hasn’t been that easy because we both care about many, many issues.

But the time has come to focus on what we can do to keep the Net from a corporate takeover that leaves citizens with a greatly diminished opportunity to be active participants in the political process.

And it’s hard for the government to shut down Net news, unlike the print media. On March 27th, Dan Froomkin, who blogs for The Washington Post, commented on The New York Times’ December 2005 publication of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, which the Bush administration tried to stop in after successfully delaying it for a year. In “The White House and the New York Times” section of the post (available by scrolling down here): “…[T]he White House ‘had considered seeking a Pentagon Papers-type injunction to block publication of the story’ led editors to ‘post it on the Internet the night before. . . . The administration might be able to stop the presses with an injunction, but they couldn't stop the Internet.’" [emphasis mine]

I’m motivated to DO SOMETHING to help save the Net.

Thank goodness, the path to effective citizen activism on this issue is already in place, thanks to Yesterday’s Washington Post article, "Net Neutrality's Quiet Crusader - Free Press's Ben Scott Faces Down Titans, Regulators in Battle Over Internet Control" has provided the inspiration and how-to: “Bearing video cameras, laptops and cellphones, a small army of young activists flooded into a recent federal meeting in protest….The tech-savvy hundreds came to the Federal Communication's hearing at Harvard Law School last month [where Comcast was caught packing the public seating with sleepy seat warmers] to push new rules for the Internet….

“A soft-spoken 30-year-old PhD candidate, Ben Scott has become an operator in multibillion-dollar battles involving corporate titans, regulators and consumers debating policies over who controls the media and the Internet….

“…Scott is no bombast. He doesn't interrupt people. When he speaks -- whether it's about media ownership or low-power radio -- he does so with a studied economy of words, and in a voice that makes people crane to hear him.”

What to do? On April 17th, there will be a FCC Public Hearing on Broadband Network Management at Stanford University, a mere two hours drive from my home. This is the West Coast version of the Harvard hearing, where the FCC will hear from expert panelists regarding broadband network management practices and Internet-related issues.

I’m going, hopefully with my blogging buddy, Chris. I will remain soft-spoken and not interrupt. I’ll work on “studied economy of words.” This should be easy because the public will not be given an opportunity to speak. I’m taking my laptop so I can live blog, my camcorder, and my cellphone so I can call John Nichols (my son and I met him on The Nation cruise in November of 05), co-founder of, in case I need help. Just kidding, John!

(photo of Ben Scott:

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