Monday, October 05, 2009

Republicans Oppose FCC Policy Changes Intended To Ensure Net Neutrality

The Chairman of the FCC has proposed policy changes to ensure Net Neutrality. The Net Neutrality policy changes would ensure that...
  • Network operators cannot prevent users from accessing the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.
  • Providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices.
Access to the Internet is made through an ISP (Internet Service Provider).  AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, RoadRunner are a few of the many, many ISPs.  When you access information or an application on the Internet you are almost always using not only your ISP but other ISPs as well.  If I send an e-mail from my Comcast account to a friend in El Dorado, Kansas, my e-mail will be handled by both Comcast and Cox Comunications - my friend's ISP.

The proposed policy change states that no ISP can restrict my use of the Internet.  They cannot limit the speed of my communication, so that another user's communication will not be limited by the volume of all communications.  They cannot limit my usage because I use Internet Explorer instead of FireFox.  The can't limit my usage because of the hardware or software that I or my ISP uses.  The ISP's network management practices must be transparent to the FCC so that the FCC can ensure that their policies are not being violated.  This is the same as the FTC's right to know how an investment company manages the money invested by their customers.  You might say that an Internet user's access to the Internet should be as unrestricted as an oxygen-breather's access to the oxygen in the air.

However, the congressional Republicans oppose Net Neutrality.  Senate Republicans have proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would allow them to block funding of the new FCC policies but the Senate Democrats are in the majority and will prevent the Republican's amendment.

The appropriations bill amendment is co-sponsored by Senators John Ensign (R-Nev.), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), David Vitter (R-La.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D).  The two Republican FCC commissioners oppose the policy changes proposed by the three Democratic FCC commissioners. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said in a release: 'We must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations.  These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives."

How do you feel about Net Neutrality?  Should the biggest and richest oxygen-breather have the right to restrict the smaller oxygen-breather's access to the oxygen in the air?

What reason(s) might the GOP have for opposing Net Neutrality?  Whose interests is the GOP representing?

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