Last year, America’s largest internet provider, Comcast, took over the second-largest, Time Warner. So Comcast is now a coast-to-coast beast, running its proprietary lines into 25 million of our homes.
Bad enough that this market power allows the internet giant to gouge customers, but it has an even more sinister reason for muscling up: Comcast, along with the handful of other internet service corporations, intend to eviscerate the pure egalitarian ethic of “net neutrality.”
The great virtue of the internet is that no one controls its content. This digital communication technology has been so successful and socially valuable because it is a wide-open, democratic forum, accessible on equal terms to all who want to put information, images, opinions, etc. on it or to download any of the same from it. But if corporate powers could restrict the flow of internet communication, they could collect billions in tolls for privileged access.
Thus, the real motivation behind Comcast’s 2016 mega-merger was that its added market control would set it up to be the very gatekeeper that the internet community doesn’t need and adamantly opposes. Want it or not, though, lobbyists for Comcast and the few other giants that own practically all of the wires that link U.S. internet users to the global web now have Donald Trump’s support to let it dictate to the millions of content providers what can go through the wires and on what terms. Rather than having one big broadband “freeway” open for transporting everyone’s internet content, these monopolists intend to create express toll-lanes they can sell at a premium to the richest content providers, leaving all other providers stuck in the slow lanes.
There is still time to fight back. Go to www.BattleForTheNet.com to help put a stop to this corporate coup.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.