Internet Freedom Gains Big Momentum
WASHINGTON -- As the SavetheInternet.com Coalition passed 500,000 signatures supporting Internet freedom, a pair of key bills protecting Network Neutrality were introduced in Congress and the New York Times wrote a powerful endorsement of this crucial issue.
The New York Times wrote:
"Net neutrality" is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. ... One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
This provided a powerful boost to Net Neutrality advocates, who are up against a multimillion dollar lobbying campaign by Internet operators like AT&T, who want more control over what Web sites people see and use online. A House committee has already voted to gut Net Neutrality, but the full House and Senate have yet to weigh in. Votes are expected in upcoming weeks.
Today, Internet freedom advocates in Congress introduced legislation that would protect Net Neutrality under the law. In the House, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) offered the standalone "Network Neutrality Act of 2006," saying on the House floor, "This legislation is designed to save the Internet and thwart those who seek to fundamentally and detrimentally alter the Internet as we know it."
In the Senate, Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) are expected to drop a bipartisan bill tomorrow with meaningful protections for Network Neutrality. Both senators sit on the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, which is currently drafting major new telecommunications legislation. Their bill joins one offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), "The Internet Non-Discrimination Act" (S. 2360), which was introduced earlier this year.
Adding to that momentum, the SavetheInternet.com Coalition announced that in less than a week, its petition signatures to preserve Net Neutrality jumped from 250,000 to 500,000. The number of organizations participating in the coalition jumped from 50 to 400.
"The fight for Internet freedom is gaining big momentum," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, a national, nonpartisan media reform and Internet policy group. "Every day, companies like AT&T and Comcast lose ground in their fight to end the free and open Internet that has revolutionized democratic participation and economic innovation."
The SavetheInternet.com coalition includes: Gun Owners of America, MoveOn.org, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Glenn Reynolds (aka libertarian blogger Instapundit), Parents Television Council, American Library Association, United Church of Christ, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Public Knowledge, and other major public interest groups. The coalition is spearheaded by Free Press.
"Without statutory network neutrality, there is nothing to prevent big telecom companies from injecting political bias into the very skeleton of modern communications," said Craig Fields, director of Internet operations for Gun Owners of America. "Whenever you see people on the left and right joining together about something Congress is getting ready to do, it's been my experience that what Congress is getting ready to do is basically un-American."
For more information, visit www.SavetheInternet.com