The Internet is proving to be the modern day musket in the revolutions heralding democracy across Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.
An Internet with no slow lane, no fast lane, no pay-to-play and one where service providers can’t charge consumers 25 cents per download?.
Overseas the power and imagination of an open, American-made, Internet is proving once again to be a vehicle for expression and freedom.
Yet on our own shores, that freedom is under attack from congressional Republicans. Today in the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Republicans will continue their misguided legislative attack on net neutrality –the underlining principle which has kept the Internet open and accessible to all.
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In an attempt to overturn the Federal Communications Commissions’s (FCC) Open Internet Order that provides safeguards for consumers and promotes investment and job creation,this GOP legislation will adversely impact Internet users, small businesses, and our economy as a whole.
The Republican and Tea Party arguments against net neutrality have gone from ridiculous to revisionist. So much so that last month I took to the House floor to give them a much needed history lesson in telecommunications.
The FCC received more than 100,000 comments from more than 2 million people during its rulemaking process — 90 percent of whom were in favor of open Internet. However, House Republican’s remain bent on tipping the scales in favor of Internet providers who plan on tipping consumers upside down online.
The FCC Open Internet Order is not perfect, and it does not contain all the protections and priorities that I’ve advocated for since I introduced the first-ever net neutrality legislation almost three years ago. I have repeatedly called for one regulatory framework for wireless and wireline Internet access and an explicit ban on paid prioritization.
Still, it does represent a step forward in the process of preserving the Internet as a vibrant marketplace for commerce and communications while fostering innovation and job creation now and in the future.
The House Republican legislation is a threat to these goals. They are listening to Verizon lobbyists, and telling the American people we “CAN’T hear you now.”
For years, large telecom companies ran a shadow campaign to impose fees on the Internet. Then a grassroots movement of bloggers, small business and grandparents who didn’t want to be nickeled and dimed every time they looked at photos of their grandkids on Flickr and Facebook rose up to defend net neutrality.
This movement grew to nearly 2 million people online and pushed the campaign to save the Internet to the top of the agenda in Washington.
My congressional colleagues once trembled in their political boots at this grassroots uprising. While the campaign around the FCC process often had the feel of an insiders’ game, now is the time to return to the tactics that first catapulted net neutrality onto the political radar screen.
With the debate shifting back to Congress, and Republican attacks intensifying, now is the time to channel our creativity and power. Now is the time to let everyone who clicks a mouse or slides their finger across an iPad needs to know that the Internet they love and depend on is threatened by a little-known law that’s almost never used. It’s called the Congressional Review Act, and Republicans know its only purpose is to repeal unnecessary regulations. The Open Internet rule not only is necessary, it’s essential for our economy and future growth.
Net neutrality remains the barometer by which the political power of the netroots, bloggers and the entire online movement will be judged. It’s entrepreneurs versus monopolies. Bloggers versus broadband barons. The fight for the future of Internet freedom is on.
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