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Ask For Internet Freedom On Third OneWebDay

September 26th, 2008 · No Comments


Special to the Tribune

Published: September 20, 2008

Seven months ago I needed my teenage son to explain YouTube to me. Now I’m not only appearing on YouTube but also writing proposals for others to do so.

So it is with a sense of bemusement that I anticipate the third annual OneWebDay on Monday, touted by Internet activists as akin to an Earth Day celebration focusing on the impact the Web has had on participatory democracy.

Much like the advent of cable TV in the 1980s brought us public, educational and government stations, the Internet is vastly expanding the amount of public information available to ordinary citizens.

As a former newsman, I find the way digital technology is eroding some of the revenue base for traditional journalism alarming.

However, it’s hard to argue with millions using e-mail to contact Congress, activists using social network sites like Facebook to organize rallies and raise money for causes, and 175,000 new blogs being created daily.

It’s new media, not news media, provided the public can get it.

For example, the Federal Communications Commission recently sanctioned Comcast for blocking traffic sent over its network via a program frequently used to share video.

Meantime, telecom companies make no secret of their plans to create fast and slow lanes on the Internet, steering the public towards their preferred Web sites. Likely left behind will be those on low incomes, rural communities and the elderly.

So mark OneWebDay by e-mailing Congress and the FCC to bridge the digital divide and ensure Internet freedom.

Mark A. Hart is statewide organizer for the Florida Media Coalition. The pro-media advocacy group is based in Tampa.

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