Net Neutrality can preserve the Internet
When it comes to Net Neutrality, it seems the real issue is money. For the cable and telecom industries, a multi-tiered Internet access speed allows multiple levels of forever-increasing fees to be charged. Next, the big corporations that can afford to pay the highest fees will then dominate the channel. Third, the politicians who wish to control the issue will be the beneficiaries of enormous amounts of money from those corporations, special interests and Internet "pipeline" providers. The result will be an elitist Internet governed by money, corruption and special interest, and restricted to big corporations.
This will turn the Internet from an entrepreneurial, level playing field of equality to a capital-intensive, tilted playing field of inequality. All of the intangible knowledge and social benefits of the Internet will be relegated to the sluggish backwaters of cyberspace while the "beachfront" property is populated with the lowest common denominator of popular culture, corporate greed and conspicuous consumption. And the Internet's biggest moneymaker will be gorging in the forefront of tiered access: pornography.
The entire concept of the Internet is at stake. Big Money wants to turn it into a high-rent, homogenized and dumbed-down shopping mall and entertainment complex. All the mom-and-pop businesses that have been driven away from Main Street by Wal-Mart would lose their newfound location on the Internet because they won't be able to compete with the cost of access and speed.
A law that permanently frees the Internet from control and economic sanctions would be logical and ideal, but we will never achieve the logical or ideal due to the innate corruption of politicians and special interests. Money talks, and the Internet is not going to survive in its current egalitarian format and structure.
This will affect direct marketers as follows: We have had a silent partner in our business forever that eats up a percentage of our costs, the U.S. Postal Service. Now, as we shed ourselves of the USPS by shifting to the online channel, we will face a new silent vulture with its beaks in our pockets: cable and telecoms. The politicians who must recognize this as being a gigantic money grab are already in the pockets of the cable and telecom industries. As direct marketers, we don't own any politicians. We lack a power base.
Unless someone rallies the merchant class to exert power - economic, political and public - we will lose the free Internet, and soon. Yet there is no dialogue among direct marketers, no outrage. If you speak to 3,000 people, maybe only 30 even know what the issue really is and what it means. And it has been this way for 18 months since I began speaking out.
Maybe you can make a difference!