February 13, 2008

NEWS: Save the Internets


Thousands share a 'neutral' passion
Net Neutrality Finds Bipartisan Support



By Miguel M. Morales

An ongoing effort to protect the Internet continued Feb 12.

In a bipartisan effort, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) introduced HR 5353, Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, to protect net neutrality and call for a public conversation about the future of the Internet.

Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunication and the Internet, stressed the importance of adopting a policy that endorses open networks because of “the vital role that broadband networks and the Internet fulfill in exercising our First Amendment rights.”

The new legislation incorporates net neutrality protection into the Communications Act in efforts to preserve the open and non-discriminatory Internet. Net neutrality prevents companies owning Internet support systems from favoring web sites or services based on source, ownership, or destination.

Supporters of net neutrality claim phone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner continue lobbying congress in efforts to kill net neutrality and gain control over the Internet.

“H.R. 5353 is designed to assess and promote Internet freedom for consumers and content providers,” Markey said.

Markey also answered critics who say the bill serves as a government effort to control the internet.

“There are some who may wish to assert that this bill regulates the Internet. It does no such thing,” he said. “The bill contains no requirements for regulations on the Internet whatsoever.”

The bill also calls for the FCC to hold a series of eight public “broadband summits” across the country and to report findings and recommendations to Congress.

Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which coordinates the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, said HR 5353 takes net neutrality outside of Washington DC to the communities across the country that want to share in the enormous economic and social benefits of an open Internet.

“The introduction of this legislation gives hope to the millions of Americans who want the public — not phone and cable companies — in control of the Internet,” he said.

More than 800 joined the SavetheInternet.com coalition to ensure net neutrality. Members include the Christian Coalition of America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Gun Owners of America, Educause, Consumer Federation of America, the ACLU, and

the American Library Association.

An open Internet connection is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity for every American to take part in our 21st century democracy,” Karr said. “The public must speak out against would-be gatekeepers that seek to filter or control the future of the Internet.”



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