Musician Moby Raises Voice for Net Neutrality

Musician-turned-cafe-proprieter Moby turned up on Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge passage of a proposal by Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey that would write Net neutrality principles into law.

Sporting his signature dark-rimmed glasses, with his head clean-shaven as usual, the artist said that a world without legally binding Net neutrality principles would mean that today’s “egalitarian” Internet would be privatized by large telecommunications companies.

“Here we have a system that works fine,” the Grammy-nominated musician said in his customary mild-mannered tone, referring to what Net neutrality advocates tout as the Internet’s historically open architecture. “Why do we want to change anything?”

The concept of Net neutrality says that network operators should not be allowed to charge content providers extra for the privilege of faster delivery or other preferential treatment.

Moby’s not the only musician who feels Net neutrality is the right way to go. A newly formed group identifying itself as Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom now includes rockers REM and Wilco, country act the Dixie Chicks, and hip-hop artist Q-Tip, among others.

With Markey by his side, Moby urged members of Congress to vote in favor of the congressman’s proposal. If they don’t, “don’t be surprised if your constituents vote against you” in the upcoming elections, he warned.

The sparsely attended press conference took place on the corner of a House office building, with the dome of the Capitol providing a conspicuous backdrop. Markey and Moby were flanked by about a dozen Net neutrality supporters hoisting orange signs prepared by the event’s organizers that read “Save the Internet.”

A couple of others toted signs backing the opposite position.

The two sides for the most part co-existed peacefully, except for a brief episode in which there was the sound of paper smacking paper–apparently, one “Save the Internet” picketer wasn’t amused by a rival’s attempt to block his sign before the pod of video cameras documenting the vent for a Webcast audience. The scuffle forced a brief pause in Markey’s speech, but no one was sent away for misbehavior.