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“Network Neutrality Critics Say If Net Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It ”
Critics say proposed legislation would benefit large content companies while forcing consumers to pay the cost of upgrading U.S. communications networks.
Opponents of network neutrality are criticizing a bill introduced this week by Senators Olympia Snowe, (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).
The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007 would prevent broadband service providers from prioritizing some Internet content, applications, or services over other content, applications, or services.
Hands Off the Internet co-chairs Mike McCurry and Christopher Wolf issued a joint statement saying the bill would benefit large content companies like Google, eBay, and Amazon, while forcing consumers to bear the burden of the cost of upgrading U.S. communications networks. Verizon and other network providers are also critical of the bill.
"It's disappointing that Senators Snowe and Dorgan would introduce essentially the same bill to regulate the Internet that went down to such decisive defeat in Congress last June," they said. "With America lagging many of our economic competitors in broadband deployment, Congress' focus should instead be on spurring affordable high-speed deployment. And, as numerous opponents of neutrality regulations, including the Communications Workers of America, have correctly noted, promoting deployment, not cumbersome new regulation, is the key to economic growth and job creation."
Hands Off the Internet -- whose members include Alcatel, AT&T, the National Association of Manufacturers, hardware manufacturers, Citizens Against Government Waste, the American Conservative Union and the National Black Chamber of Commerce -- pointed out that a 269-152 vote defeated a network neutrality bill in Congress last year. A similar attempt for statewide neutrality legislation failed in Michigan.
The congressional defeat did not end the debate last year. Several similar bills failed to get to the floor for a vote.
Peter Davidson, Verizon senior VP for federal government relations, said network neutrality legislation would be a "huge step backward.
"Verizon supports and protects consumers' rights to full Internet access, and we provide them with an unmatched online experience," he said. neutrality -- better named net regulation -- is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. We expect a robust debate. In the end, most policymakers will focus on how to increase broadband deployment, and wonder how net regulation advances that goal. It's ironic that this bill is introduced at the same time the Consumer Electronics Show is filling the news with broadband-enabled innovations. There is a 'disconnect' between consumers' desires for new products and services and the stifling effects of this bill."
FreedomWorks chairman and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said there is already too much government "meddling in the telecom sector" and said liberal groups support more legislation. Network neutrality supporters include the Gun Owners of America and the Christian Coalition.
"Common sense tells us that if it ain't broke don't fix it," he said. "The Internet has done just fine without the help of regulators and politicians. Liberal politicians and groups such as MoveOn.org are promoting the idea that active government interference is necessary to 'save' the Internet. The Internet is the modern frontier of innovation and economic development, and should remain free from regulation. Net neutrality mandates are something true small government supporters need to rally against."
FreedomWorks, which is supported by telecommunications companies and claims 700,000 grass roots activists, said it will call upon its nationwide army of volunteers to lobby against the bill.
Network neutrality proponents have garnered 1.43 million signatures on petitions supporting network neutrality legislation.