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Hands Off The Internet

I first got on the Internet back in December 1994, well before most people today -- judging by growth numbers anyway -- and I was amazed at the political culture that was flourishing at the time. Although it was once largely funded by the U.S. government, the Internet was filled with netizens who were often fiercely libertarian and fought any move by government to stick its fingers in the pie.

Popularity, however, always draws attention and as the Internet became more commercial -- my first visit to a web site was a Frank Zappa appreciation web site from the Czech Republic and not Amazon.com or eBay -- it came under the scrutiny of government officials who want to cleanse it of anything that may have offended their senses. Nothing good lasts forever.

While the migration of mainstream society to the web may have shifted the politics of the web away from its libertarian roots, there still exists a largely contingent of people who have little desire for the government to interfere with the Internet. One of those groups is Hands Off The Internet. In its statement of principles, HOTI calls for a "hands off" approach to regulation and fights for an unregulated Internet, a moratorium on taxes and opposition to any government attempts to censor content.

"Hands Off The Internet believes that the best way to avoid burdensome and unnecessary regulation and mandates is by ensuring that market forces deliver the benefits that fair competition bring to the American consumer -- maximum choice in supplier, content, and technology," says the group.

In support of its campaign, and those people who share its beliefs, the web site offers a number of resources. You'll find news articles, press releases, issue papers, and statements from key players on a variety issues ranging from e-commerce, hardware, software and access. Surfers can also find contact information for officials and the media, take part in a survey and sign a petition. There isn't much related to the subject that can't be found here.

The web site itself thankfully avoids any flash and presents its information in an easy to navigate manner. An avoidance of numerous graphics means it loads quickly but the web site is still attractive.

The Internet isn't going to remain free -- or at least as free as it is now -- from government unless those who believe in free markets get involved and fight for it. Technologically un-savvy politicians infest Capitol Hill and many of them would love a chance to try and take care of a pet concern regardless of how realistic change is when it comes to something like the Internet.

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