What follows are my notes from Jeff Chester’s talk at the Freedom2Connect conference on Monday.
Jeff Chester, executive director, Center for Digital Democracy
Our democracy and communications system are at a crossroads. Currents are underway that will fundamentally change it.
It’s beyond network neutrality. It’s time to step up and fight to take on a few powerful vested interests and create both a digital medium and society that reflects our highest aspirations.
If we fail to do it, we do a disservice to everything we hold dear.
The vision many of our large conglomerates have for the future is the past. Their vision for this most powerful medium is television. They call it the triple or quadruple play so they can send us entertainment, so they can track our every movement online, for commercial reasons. It’s so they can create entertainment by the most deep pocketed.
That is why they have gone to the FCC, and eliminated the non-discriminatory safeguard at the core of the dial-up Internet. Now they have no roadblocks for a multi-tiered, pay as you surf system. We can thank former chairman Powell for this, because first with cable, then with the telephone system, it was Powell and now Kevin Martin who changed the policies created by the Congress going back 10 years.
AOL wanted an open regime.. They were denied an open cable regime. So they bought Time Warner.
We have to have a large cry that it is not your pipes. It is not your private IP network. The Internet must be required to operate at a highrr level of accountability. It has to be required to operate as a public trust. We need a digital medium that respects freedom first, commerce second.
The merging of the TV and computer is important, and we have to make sure that all points of view can reach those people using IPTV.
In our multimedia world everyone must have immediate access. It’s not about blocking, and if you go to Democraticmedia and Freepress, we have collected white papers from Cisco and Alcatel, white papers laying out the future, showing how you can slow down bits.
There can’t be walled gardens, rigged program guides. People need to get whatever they need, and they shouild not face gatekepers.
The current bill in Congress would create a national franchise for cable, with no local control anymore.
Policy based routing means my content goes first, everyone else pays.
They’re creating a world where content and commerce and data collection are all intertwined, where all aspects of our lives are commercialized moments, and that is at the heart of the plan.
It’s a place where the meter is always running.
What you’re going to see are fewer phone companies, fewer cable companies, and these giant companies will buy newspapers, TV stations, a handful of very powerful companies in charge of all modes of communications, with a narrow business model that denies competitiveness.
We have to address the class and race issues. We have to foster diversity and democracy.