Network Neutrality

What are we for? What are we against? After I spammed a bunch of my friends with an urgent call to activism in support of network neutrality principles, one wrote back as follows:

I don’t see here what bill exactly, we are objecting to. Is it a house bill? a senate bill? what’s the number? Government web sites are time consuming in the best of circumstances, but it’s much easier to find bill wording if we have a number. Do you have it? if you do, and you send it to me, I will look into the issue further. Before I write congresspersons, I need to read the bill.

How embarrassing. I think the bathwater is just the right temperature, but what have we done with the baby? Wait… it must be around here somewhere. (Blogger rustles through stacks of old Network World’s and New Yorker magazines…) Ahh… here it is, from the Save the Internet FAQ: Congress is now considering a major overhaul of the Telecommunications Act. The primary bill in the House is called the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006” and is sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Charles Pickering (R-Miss.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The current version of the COPE Act includes watered-down net neutrality provisions that are essentially meaningless. An amendment offered in a key subcommittee by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), which would have instituted real net neutrality requirements, was defeated after intense industry lobbying against it.

But it’s not too late yet. A full committee vote on the measure — and another opportunity to save the Internet — could happen as soon as April 26.The Senate is moving more deliberately on the issue. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced the Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2006, which would ensure net neutrality. And Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (R-N.D.) are expected to introduce a bipartisan amendment supporting net neutrality when the Senate takes up its own rewrite of the Telecommunications Act later this year.But neither chamber will support the free and open Internet without widespread public pressure. To keep the Internet free and open, Congress needs to hear from millions of Americans right now.

Posted in Networks, Politics

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