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Jun-28-2006 17:01printcomments

Wyden Blocks Telecom Legislation Over Ineffective Net Neutrality Provision

Senator wants legislation to include stronger safeguards for consumers to prevent discrimination in Internet access and usage.

image: Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Ron Wyden

(Washington D.C.) - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced that he has placed a `hold" on major telecommunications legislation recently approved by the Senate Commerce Committee until clear language is included in the legislation that prevents discrimination in Internet access.

The legislation as currently written does not provide an effective policy on net neutrality, and instead opens the Internet up to large telecommunications companies and cable providers to charge consumers and small businesses new and discriminatory fees on top of those they already charge for Internet access.

In March, Wyden introduced the first stand-alone net neutrality legislation in Congress, S. 2360, the Internet Non-Discrimination Act. Wyden is also a co-sponsor of a similar measure offered this spring by U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to preserve net neutrality.

Wyden has long been an advocate of a technology-neutral Internet. He is the author of the Internet tax ban, which the Senate Committee on Finance today voted to make permanent, as well as numerous other laws, including ones to protect consumers from spyware and adware.

As a matter of policy, Wyden publicly announces any holds or formal objection he lodges with regard to nominees or legislation. The full text of Wyden`s statement submitted to the Congressional Record today follows:

************************************************************

Statement for the Record

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

June 28, 2006

Mr. President, the major telecommunications legislation reported today by the Senate Commerce Committee is badly flawed. The bill makes a number of major changes in the country`s telecommunications law but there is one provision that is nothing more than a license to discriminate. Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse.

This one provision threatens to divide the Internet into technology `haves" and `have nots." This one provision concentrates even more power in the hands of the special interests that own the pipelines to the Internet. This one provision codifies discrimination on the Internet by a handful of large telecommunications and cable providers. This one provision will allow large, special interests to saddle consumers and small businesses alike with new and discriminatory fees over and above what they already pay for Internet access. This one small provision is akin to hurling a giant wrecking ball at the Internet.

The inclusion of this provision compels me to state that I would object to a unanimous consent request to the Senate proceeding with this legislation until a provision that provides true internet neutrality is included.

This bill means the American people will no longer be able to use the Internet free from discrimination. Sure, the time it takes you to access the web might be slower with dial up, or you might zoom around the web at warp speed, but you get to choose the speed. Today, whatever speed you chose doesn`t make any difference in which sites you can visit. You still get access to any site you want. This is the beauty and the genius of the Internet. The net is neutral.

The days of unfettered, unlimited and free access to any site on the world wide web, what I call net neutrality, are being threatened. Those who own the pipes, the giant cable and phone companies, want to discriminate in which sites you can access. If they get their way, not only will you have to pay more for faster speeds, you`ll have to pay more for something you get for free today: unfettered access to every site on the world wide web. To me, that`s discrimination, pure and simple.

The Internet has thrived precisely because it is neutral. It has thrived because consumers, and not some giant cable or phone company, get to choose what they want to see and how quickly they get to see it. I am not going to allow a bill to go forward that is going to end surfing the web free of discrimination.

The large Interests have made it clear that if this bill moves forward, they will begin to discriminate. A Verizon Communications executive has called for an `end to Google`s ?free lunch.`" A Bell South executive has said that he wants the Internet to be turned into a `pay-for-performance marketplace". What they and other cable and phone company executives are proposing is that instead of providing equal access for everyone to the same content at the same price, they will set up sweetheart arrangements to play favorites. Without net neutrality protections, this bill is bad news for consumers and anyone who today enjoys unlimited access to all of the Net`s applications, service and content.

There is no doubt in my mind that American consumers and small business will be the losers in this fight if this bill is allowed to move forward. Right now, a computer science major at the University of Oregon who is working on the next big thing for the Internet. But she will never get the chance to get the next big thing out there if she cannot pay the big fees that will be charged tomorrow for the same Internet access she gets for free today.

Right now in Pendleton, Oregon there is a small family wheat farm where dad is monitoring the fertilizer on their crop via a new web-service program that his son bought. If the network operators have their way, this web-service will get so expensive that it will be out of reach for this family farmer.

As a United States Senator who has devoted himself to keeping the Internet free from discrimination, from discriminatory taxes and regulations to assuring offline protections apply to online consumer activities as well, I cannot stand by and allow the bill to proceed with this provision. The inclusion of this provision compels me to inform my colleagues that I would object to any unanimous consent request for the United States Senate to move to consider this bill.

There are other provisions in this legislation, such as the one relating to my proposal for the creation of kids television tiers, that are problematic, but none of them rises to the same level of concern as the one relating to network neutrality. Therefore, I will object to any further action on this telecommunications bill until it includes a strong net neutrality provisions that will truly benefit consumers and small business. I ask unanimous consent that a copy of my statement be printed in the record.




Comments

Comments are Closed on this story.



macbags May 9, 2007 8:31 pm (Pacific time)

I was sleeping. But it seems we don't know in America what we got, till it's gone.


ksr22 November 27, 2006 7:04 pm (Pacific time)

ISPs have competition from forth generation internet providers like satellite broadband and cellular broadband. Cable and DSL companys no longer have dominance over the broadband market. Why would you people want the government to inhibit the DSL and cable business? The US is lagging in broadband deployment. Cable and DSL companies should be allowed to charge more money for faster services if that money is what it takes for them to get the wires out there to the people. Maybe congress should stop lobbying for network neutrality and start trying to get the government to fund the broadband deployment. I believe that Network Neutrality is a concept from the past because the new broadband providers bring competition to the market. Thus, ISPs would not benefit from discriminating content because consumers could just go ahead and switch their provider. Yes, I realize that the fastest internet would be more expensive, but if you are so ambitious than you will go to college and earn enough money for the best internet. The teenie bopper pop-culture will be the only losers from this legislation.


C.P.Harris July 5, 2006 9:40 am (Pacific time)

It's interesting to point out the shamefull lack of coverage from the corporate mass media on the net neutrality issues, this also includes NPR and C-Span. This issue has galvanized the country in a non-partison way to protect net neutrality from being eliminated by ATandT, Verizon, BellSouth and big cable companiess. The same companies that provided personal information without court approval to the NSA.


David June 30, 2006 9:08 pm (Pacific time)

Re weasel claims like "Google is getting a 'free lunch'..." [implying that it's at their expense]: Google pays for their bandwidth, just like everyone else who is connected to the net. What they really mean is that Google is profitable, and they want a cut. Not because they deserve it, but because they believe lax goverment oversight, baffled consumers, and a near monopoly on residential high speed connectivity will enable them to steal it.


Scalibane@hotmail.com June 30, 2006 1:43 pm (Pacific time)

People don't seem to care about important matters anymore these days. Seems like 'pop culture' and similar garbage is retarding everyone's brain to the point where they don't care so much about important real world issues (like the possibility of losing net-neutrality); that is, until it's too late and they realize what happened after it directly affects them for the worse (ie massively increased ISP fee). Only then will they care; however, by then it will be too late anyways, good job people. Who cares anyways though right? I like, totally, like want to learn more about, like, Brad and Angelina's baby, and like, what about Britney, like oh my gosh. I seriously hate you all go DIAF. People need to make an effort to take action and do what they can to get involved and have your voice heard; otherwise you're just going to sit back and get force-fed bullcrap by the government, etc. while being hypnotized by pop culture and other trash.


Anonymous June 29, 2006 8:37 pm (Pacific time)

People are not paying attention to this!!!!! Why??????

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