- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

As a follow-up to this post on the Internet access debate, I share this form letter from eBay president Meg Whitman. The online auction site is obviously tracking this issue closely, and it’s striking that a company as big and successful as eBay — not exactly the kind of entity whose existence would typically concern the likes of Moby — is threatened by the telecoms.

For what it’s worth:

Dear sgalupo,

As you know, I almost never reach out to you personally with a request to get involved in a debate in the U.S. Congress. However, today I feel I must.

Right now, the telephone and cable companies in control of Internet access are trying to use their enormous political muscle to dramatically change the Internet. It might be hard to believe, but lawmakers in Washington are seriously debating whether consumers should be free to use the Internet as they want in the future.

The phone and cable companies now control more than 95% of all Internet access. These large corporations are spending millions of dollars to promote legislation that would divide the Internet into a two-tiered system.

The top tier would be a “Pay-to-Play” high-speed toll-road restricted to only the largest companies that can afford to pay high fees for preferential access to the Net.

The bottom tier — the slow lane — would be what is left for everyone else. If the fast lane is the information “super-highway,” the slow lane will operate more like a dirt road.

Today’s Internet is an incredible open marketplace for goods, services, information and ideas. We can’t give that up. A two lane system will restrict innovation because start-ups and small companies — the companies that can’t afford the high fees — will be unable to succeed, and we’ll lose out on the jobs, creativity and inspiration that come with them.

The power belongs with Internet users, not the big phone and cable companies. Let’s use that power to send as many messages as possible to our elected officials in Washington. Please join me by clicking here right now to send a message to your representatives in Congress before it is too late. You can make the difference.

Thank you for reading this note. I hope you’ll make your voice heard today.

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