Lining up high-powered support for net neutrality is going to be critical to our fight against the big telecoms. That's why Daily Kos joined with 15 other organizations to press Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to weigh in on the net neutrality debate. Our efforts were picked up by the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, national progressive groups urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get behind reclassifying broadband as a utility—a move that would give regulators at the Federal Communications Commission much greater authority to ban Internet fast lanes.Together, these organizations represent more than 10 million members, a larger community that has had Reid's back on multiple occasions, from legislative fights to helping keep a Democratic majority in the Senate to providing ongoing encouragement, support, and nudging of his members on filibuster reform. Everything that the netroots has done to help a progressive agenda in our national politics has happened because of our ability to engage, inform, and agitate on the internet.
The liberal groups argued in a letter that allowing the FCC's current net neutrality proposal to move forward would make it harder for activists, artists and journalists to do their jobs.
"We urge you to—as soon as possible—publicly call on Chairman [Tom] Wheeler and his FCC to reclassify Internet service as a telecommunications service under Title II and implement strong net neutrality regulations that will ban all unreasonable technical discrimination (and define pay-to-play arrangements as inherently unreasonable)," according to the letter, which was signed by groups including MoveOn, CREDO, SumofUS and Daily Kos.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has weighed in with her concerns about the two-tiered internet proposal the FCC is considering, as have John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (on the side of no regulation whatever). So far, Reid has remained silent on the key issue of reclassification of broadband as a public utility.
It's not likely that legislative action on net neutrality could happen this year, but the support of congressional leadership is still important. That's why we appealed to Reid. You can read our full letter below the fold.
Honorable Harry Reid:
As you know, our organizations represent well over 10 million progressives (including more than 100,000 Nevadans) who compose much of the activist base of the Democratic Party. As netroots groups that educate, organize and mobilize our membership through the Internet, we write to you with a keen understanding of the central role a free and open Internet plays in our democracy.
We are writing to you today to urge you to join House Minority Leader Pelosi, more than a dozen members of the Senate Democratic caucus, dozens of members of the House of Representatives, hundreds of technology companies, non-profits, and activism organizations, as well as millions of Americans in demanding that the Federal Communications Commission reclassify broadband and implement strong Net Neutrality rules. We should treat the Internet as the public utility that it is -- like water, telephones, and electricity.
The FCC, at Chairman Tom Wheeler's behest, has indicated its desire to implement a supposed Open Internet rule that relies on authorities afforded it under Section 706 of the Federal Communications Act. But legal scholars and even the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- as it struck down the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order in January -- have made it clear that Section 706 does not provide the FCC with the ability to ban unreasonable discrimination, access fees, paid prioritization, exclusive deals, or discriminatory exemptions to bandwidth caps -- all of which were banned or effectively banned in the FCC's 2010 order.
This means that websites could be required to pay fees to Internet service providers (ISPs) in order to be made readily accessible to Internet users -- or could otherwise be relegated to slow lanes, making their content less accessible, and making them unable to compete on the merits with those who can afford to pay, dooming them to failure.
This would undermine the ecosystem of activist organizations, blogs, independent journalists, and new technology platforms that has enhanced our democracy and provided so much new vitality to our political process in recent years.
The only path forward that will definitively protect activists, artists, independent journalists, non-profits, start-ups, and others who cannot afford to pay fees to ISPs is via reclassification of Internet service as a telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, with appropriate forbearance, and to adopt real Net Neutrality rules.
We urge you to -- as soon as possible -- publicly call on Chairman Wheeler and his FCC to reclassify Internet service as a Telecommunications Service under Title II and implement strong Net Neutrality regulations that will ban all unreasonable technical discrimination (and define pay-to-play arrangements as inherently unreasonable), forbid blocking, and ban other undue interference with the open architecture of the Internet -- thus protecting the Internet as we have known it, our economy, and our democracy.
Color of Change
Democracy for America
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Free Press Action Fund
Progressive Democrats of America