Free Press to Debut

Initiative Aims to Get Public at Large Better Informed About, More Involved in Broadband-Rollout Debate

Free Press Tuesday will launch an initiative to get the public at large better informed about and more involved in the broadband-rollout debate.

At the Personal Democracy Forum in New York -- a two-day conference about the intersection of politics and technology -- Free Press will unveil, which it billed as a "groundbreaking initiative to make access to a fast, open and affordable Internet a basic right for all Americans."

A Free Press source said the campaign is not looking for legislation and is not about network neutrality or even about the Federal Communications Commission or Congress. Instead, it is about raising the profile of the issue of access to high-speed Internet service so that it becomes a national priority.

Among those slated to make appearances in support of the initiative are FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Google chief technology evangelist (yes, that is the title) Vint Cerf, Free Press' Josh Silver and others familiar to the witness lists of Hill hearings on the Internet, including Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig and Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu.

" will unite Internet users, content creators and innovators to make universal, affordable high-speed Internet access a national priority," Free Press said in announcing the unveiling. "Tomorrow's event is the kickoff of the massive effort to organize popular support, economic clout and political momentum behind this important goal."

The Bush administration, the FCC and Congress have all said that making affordable broadband available to as many Americans as possible is a national priority, but the FCC has been under fire from congressional Democrats citing studies that show that the United States is falling behind in broadband penetration.