Rep. Peters Flips for Net Neutrality

Politicians love to slam their rivals as flip-floppers — but changing your position can be a good thing.

Consider Michigan Rep. Gary Peters. Back in 2010, Peters was one of 73 House Democrats who signed fellow Rep. Gene Green’s letter urging the FCC not to adopt strong Net Neutrality rules.

Times have changed: This week Peters, who’s running for Senate, wrote a letter pushing the agency to protect the open Internet in the best way possible: by reclassifying Internet service providers as common carriers.

“Allowing large, established corporations to purchase faster service puts these startups and small businesses at a disadvantage and stifles innovation,” the letter reads. “If large corporations can pay more for faster service for their content, this effectively creates a ‘slow lane’ for everyone else. … Now more than ever, a robust Net Neutrality framework is critical to reaching the economic growth and job creation of which our nation is capable.”

Peters’ shift shows how much has changed in four years. The movement for real Net Neutrality is gaining momentum by the day. Earlier this week, 13 senators signed Sen. Ed Markey’s letter urging the FCC to reclassify and “protect the openness of the Internet for future generations.” Thirty-six members of the House of Representatives issued a similar call in May. And this time out, Gene Green could summon up only 18 colleagues to sign his new anti-Net Neutrality letter.

At this rate — and in light of the public uproar over Chairman Tom Wheeler’s corporate-friendly plan to allow discrimination online — it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if the FCC’s website crashed on Friday, the new deadline to submit comments.

This week in Detroit, Peters is among many Net Neutrality supporters speaking out at the progressive Netroots Nation gathering. Peters will join Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who signed the Markey letter, during the morning keynote address on Friday.

Also on tap at the conference is Free Press Policy Counsel Lauren Wilson, who will participate in the panel discussion “Why Net Neutrality Is a Social Justice Issue” on Friday at 3 p.m.

Launched in 2006 as a project of Daily Kos, Netroots Nation has played a major role in building support for the open Internet. It was here that Sen. Al Franken delivered his famous speech calling Net Neutrality “the First Amendment issue of our time.”

Whether you’ve been lucky enough to attend Netroots or not, we all have a stake in the future of the Internet. Don’t miss your chance to weigh in on Wheeler’s proposal. Submit your comment today!

Note: Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund do not support or oppose any candidate for public office.

Original photo by Flickr user Jared Tarbell