House Sells Out the Internet

I’ll have my own comments later (have to go back and watch the PVRed proceedings from CSPAN to pick choicer comments for the radioshow), so I leave it to Free Press to tell the story:

June 8, 2006
Contact:

Jeannine Kenney
(202) 238-9249
Ben Scott
(202) 265-1490

House Ignores Public, Sells Out the Internet through Passage of COPE Act

Net Neutrality Advocates Look to Senate to Save Internet Freedom

WASHINGTON – Today the US House passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE) without meaningful network neutrality provisions promoted by the diverse, right-left www.savetheinternet.com coalition of public interest and business groups. The 152 to 269 vote coincides with a massive lobbying effort by telephone companies to enter the national television market and prevent preservation of network neutrality requirements.

“Special interest advocates from telephone and cable companies have flooded the Congress with misinformation delivered by an army of lobbyists to undermine decades-long federal practice of prohibiting network owners from discriminating against competitors to shut out competition. Unless the Senate steps in, today’s vote marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as an engine of new competition, entrepreneurship and innovation.” said Consumers Union Senior Policy Analyst, Jeannine Kenney.

“The American public favors an open and neutral Internet and does not want gatekeepers taxing innovation and throttling the free market,” said Ben Scott, Policy Director for Free Press. “The House has seriously undermined access to information and democratic communication. Despite the revisionist history propagated by the telcos and their lobbyists, until last year, the Internet had always been a neutral network. It is the central reason for its overwhelming success. This issue is not about whether or not the government will regulate the Internet. It’s about whether consumers or cable and phone companies will decide what services and content are available on the Net.”

The grass-roots coalition backing network neutrality includes more than 700 groups, 5,000 bloggers and 800,000 individuals who have rallied in support of net neutrality at . The coalition is left and right, public and private, commercial and noncommercial. Supporters of net neutrality include the Christian Coalition of America, MoveOn.org, National Religious Broadcasters, the Service Employees International Union, the American Library Association, AARP, ACLU, and every major consumer group in the nation. It includes the founders of the Internet and hundreds of companies that do business online.

This is not Google vs. AT&T,” said Mark Cooper, Director of Research at Consumers Federation of America. “CFA has been battling to keep the phone companies from putting tollbooths on the Internet since the early 1980’s, but now every business and every consumer that uses the Internet has a dog in the fight for Internet Freedom. This coalition will continue to grow, millions of Americans will add their voices, and Congress will not escape the roar of public opinion until Congress passes enforceable net neutrality.” The battle for Net Neutrality – or Internet Freedom – now moves to the Senate, where there is significantly stronger bipartisan support. Senators Snowe (R-ME) and Dorgan (D-ND) have introduced the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2006” that enjoys the strong support the SaveTheInternet coalition.

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