News Release

Telecom Giants: Their Way on the Information Superhighway

The Senate is considering telecommunications legislation which would end “network neutrality” and give the telecom industry additional powers. The New York Times reports today that AT&T “has revised its privacy policy for its television and Internet customers, asserting that the personal information it collects is owned by the company.”
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The following analysts are available for interviews:

BEN SCOTT
CRAIG AARON
Policy director for the media reform group Free Press, Scott said today: “Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet’s First Amendment, a principle called network neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you based on what site pays them the most.” Free Press has helped assemble a broad coalition on the issue, which includes the National Religious Broadcasters, the Service Employees International Union, the Christian Coalition, the American Library Association, AARP and nearly every major consumer group. Aaron is communications director for Free Press.
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ANTHONY RIDDLE
Executive director of the Alliance for Community Media, Riddle said today: “Before a Supreme Court decision last year, it was understood that all data on the Internet was to be treated equally and that nobody was to block any information going from anyone to anyone. With the Supreme Court decision and the recent House bill, the companies that operate the wires or fibers that bring the Internet to and from your house have the ability to offer preferential treatment for pay and also to block any content that they deem opposing their business interests.

“The media giants are trying to make this out to be poor little them against Google, but that’s not true. It’s about them having the power to decide based on finances, or even on point of view, how to treat data. These companies have not only cooperated with the NSA eavesdropping program, but just today we learn that AT&T has adopted a new policy that renders its customers’ phone records AT&T’s property, which it can sell to whomever it wants. These companies have proven themselves unfit to have this power.”
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WENDY WIGAND
Policy analyst at Educause, a consortium of 2,000 universities and other institutions of higher learning, Wigand said today: “What the telecommunications companies are trying to do by gutting net neutrality violates the very principles behind online communication for the last 35 years. A basic premise of the Internet is that once data is on the Internet, it’s treated the same. It doesn’t matter if it comes from Comcast or Vonage or a university or if it’s an email from an individual.

“The giant cable and phone companies want their data — and the data of others who pay a premium to them — to be treated differently than everyone else’s. This will mean that our libraries and medical centers and universities will have to wait in line while Comcast funnels entertainment to people. This is already happening. Comcast has given its own voice over Internet service premiere quality and relegated Vonage’s service to the slow lane. They are already making a lot of money; they should not have this power.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167