Internet Bill a Blow to the Gatekeepers


Save the Internet
February 14, 2008

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) today launched the latest salvo in the struggle to keep the Internet free from gatekeepers with the introduction of the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008” (HR 5353).

The bipartisan bill protects Net Neutrality under the Communications Act and calls for a nationwide conversation to set policy about the future of the Internet.

The legislation gives hope to the millions of Americans who have called for action to ensure that the public — not phone and cable companies — control the fate of the Internet.

Taking it Public

The new bill calls on the FCC to convene at least eight “broadband summits” to collect public input on a variety of policies “that will promote openness, competition, innovation, and affordable, ubiquitous broadband service for all individuals in the United States.”

Taking the issue outside the Beltway — and beyond the corrosive influence of telecom lobbyists — is an encouraging sign for communities across the country that stand to benefit from the enormous economic and social benefits of an open Internet.

Big phone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner have padded the pockets of Washington lawyers, lobbyists and shills to kill Net Neutrality and pave the way for “network management” practices that allow blocking of certain content in favor of Web sites and services the companies prefer.

Barring Discrimination

The new bill requires the FCC to actively protect the free-flowing Internet from gatekeepers, enforcing protections that “guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.”

These protections would be amended into the Communications Act, according to the new legislation.

The FCC recently launched an investigation — spurred by a complaint from members of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition and thousands of letters from concerned citizens — into blocking of Internet services by cable and phone companies.

A Growing Coalition

“Americans need to ask themselves: What good is free speech if a handful of powerful corporations have the ability to shut off or slow viewpoints they find objectionable?” said International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “I applaud Congressman Markey and encourage other union members to stand with the 1.4 million-member strong International Brotherhood of Teamsters.”

“Gamers, the majority of whom are in the coveted 18-45 demographic, increasingly use the Internet to communicate, mobilize and play the increasingly complex games they enjoy,” said Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), a national nonprofit membership organization established to serve the needs of the millions of Americans who play computer and video games. “We look forward to participating in the discussion fostered by this important legislation.”

Markey and Pickering’s bill will reignite the grassroots campaign to restore meaningful and lasting Net Neutrality protections. Access to an open Internet connection is no longer a luxury; it’s a right that should be afforded every American.

The public now has a new chance to speak out against would-be gatekeepers that seek to distort the Internet in their favor.


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