By Sara Jerome - 01/20/11 04:20 PM EST
Al Gore called on the public to "defend the Internet" in a speech at the Campus Party Brazil conference this week.
"Do not let it be controlled by governments or by large corporations," he said in a rousing speech. "It is a network of people "
The remarks suggest support for two distinct policies: net neutrality, which calls on the government to prevent phone and cable from toying with Internet traffic, as well as Internet freedom, the concept that the government must not censor Internet content.
It does not sit well with the phone and cable companies when the ideas are conflated.
AT&T's top policy executive Jim Cicconi said in The Washington Post a couple of years ago that it is "disturbing" when policymakers equate "the outright censorship decisions of a communist government to the network congestion decisions of an American ISP. There is no valid comparison, and it’s frankly an affront to suggest otherwise."
He was responding to remarks by then White House technology official Andrew McLaughlin. McLaughlin's had said net neutrality and Internet censorship are "intrinsically linked."
“If it bothers you that the China government does it, it should bother you when your cable company does it,” McLaughlin had said.