The Internet – open and free
What a pleasure it was to sit back with a cup of coffee last Saturday and open the morning paper. Yes, the print version for those of us still inclined to relax comfortably and read in a chair, or even in bed. Washington’s own Jay Inslee, in Congress representing the 1st District, emphasized in his Times editorial page special that ” the Internet has become the core of our social and business lives.” What does Congressman Inslee know about the Internet? Well, he has a background in fighting the scourge of media consolidation and sponsored the first net-neutrality legislation. Jay has provided local opportunities for discussing numerous actions on telecommunication legislation and continued to champion rulings which bring localism to the forefront in what is now such a key phrase, broadband deployment. In his editorial contribution he hones in on the true reality taking place which is above the radar screen for most everyday people using the Internet freely and without care. That providers are beginning to see the power and financial gain to “control the pipes that deliver content to consumers and with it the ability to play favorites, their partnered favorites, or even discriminate against bits of data.” The growth in number of online users and hits continue to be staggering for Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, Hulu, and other offerings only imagined. Friends, family, business and acquaintances all rely on the Internet for a voice in the world, a means to gain knowledge, market share for products, inventions, or just to say hi. Congress has made strides in assuring media ownership diversity which has a lasting benefit for all consumers to have access to a wide range of perspectives from an array of sources. In these harsh economic times, the Internet has, as Inslee points out, generated 3.1 million new jobs as a major key economic driver. Because of the Internet’s open platform and architecture, designers can create, small businesses flourish, and our expressive freedoms resonate from halls and homes alike. Ah, but as our Congressman notes about the recent federal court ruling, times could drastically change and “alter our ability to choose what we want to watch and read online and who has the power to create and innovate.” Will the Internet shrink with limitations placed on access or remain open and engaging? Will it be another toll-like scenario for a price that enlarges the digital divide or even worse turns away a young mind’s technological aspirations? As Jay Inslee insists, this is not a new fight. As a sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, he is committed to giving the power of choice to the people, the consumers, small business, and all that want openness through a robust environment looking out onto a horizon of a broad land with new broadband. Let’s join him.