Net neutrality got another push from Democratic senators this week as Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Byron Dorgon, D-N.D., reintroduced a measure that did not make it past the committee level last summer in a Republican-dominated Congress.
Now, with the tables turned, the lawmakers hope they can get the backing to pass the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. They received co-sponsorship from John Kerry, D-Mass.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; and Barack Obama, D-Ill.
The Internet Freedom Preservation Act would prevent broadband service providers from slowing traffic or charging premium rates to deliver that traffic at faster speeds belonging to applications providers such as YouTube and Google Inc. The bill would, however, allow service providers to manage their networks to keep them secure or offer different levels of connections to users. It further requires providers to offer consumers naked DSL, or standalone broadband that does not have to come with cable, phone or VoIP service.
Snowe and Dorgan said they especially were motivated to introduce the bill after their attempts were shot down in 2006, and after comments made by AT&T Inc. Chairman Ed Whitacre in late 2005, and then other telecom executives, instigated the net neutrality debate and brought possible discriminatory intent to light.
Verizon Communications Inc. was the only Bell company to respond to the acts introduction. The company reiterated its stand that net neutrality would regulate a problem that does not exist, an argument it and AT&T have put forth since the debate erupted.
AT&T Inc. www.att.com
U.S. Senate www.senate.gov
Verizon Communications Inc. www.verizon.com