Did SBC Draft The Bill To Hijack The Internet?

A Congressional committee yesterday unveiled a draft of a bill that would in essence allow Big Telecom to hijack the Internet --- and the wording makes one wonder whether SBC had a hand in drafting the law....

November 10, 2005

2 Min Read
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A Congressional committee yesterday unveiled a draft of a bill that would in essence allow Big Telecom to hijack the Internet --- and the wording makes one wonder whether SBC had a hand in drafting the law. There's a lot of bad things about the proposal that would deregulate IP-based services. Possibly the worst is this: There aren't adequate protections against Big Telecom cutting off broadband subscriber access to sites and services, including popular sites like Google, or services like VoIP.

In fact, the law says that providers could cut off access to content or services "under the guise of network management," according to Gene Kimmelman, senior director of public policy and advocacy at Consumers Union.

So why do I think SBC may have drafted the proposal? Because about a week ago, SBC CEO Edward Whitacre threatened to cut off subscriber access to Google, Yahoo, and VoIP services unless those companies and services in essence paid him an extortion fee.

"Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that," he said. He continued, "The Internet can't be free...because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!...Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?"

Sounds an awful lot to me like Whitacre and his friends have helped draft the bill. If this law went into effect, Whitacre could put a chokehold on popular sites and services.The proposal is before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Telecommunications. Vinton Cerf, father of the Internet, testified against it, and it's also drawing fire from Yahoo, Google, consumer groups, and others.

The Republicans on the committee back the bill. The Democrats don't. There's still a chance to stop it, so if it's something that concerns you, let your Congressman know what you think.

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