Cantwell Applauds FCC’s Net Neutrality Rule Proposal

Senator: FCC proposal puts ‘a stake in the ground to protect consumers’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s announcement of FCC’s draft net neutrality rules that would implement strong protections for an open Internet. 

“What we have done with this announcement today is put a stake in the ground to protect consumers,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This announcement will set a clear framework for the innovation economy and the millions of jobs that depend on it across our nation. It marks a game-changing milestone for American innovations and consumers. This is a comprehensive plan that will protect consumers while allowing flexibility for business growth and investment.

“All of this growth in the Internet economy relies on an open Internet -- that means no blocking and no throttling of priorities,” Cantwell added. “I thank Chairman Wheeler for his leadership in setting up strong rules. A strong net neutrality rule is the best tool in the toolbox for preserving the openness of the Internet.” 

Cantwell has been a leader in defending net neutrality and equal access for all Internet users. In December, she spearheaded a letter with 10 other Senators calling on Congressional leaders to preserve four tenets of net neutrality: No blocking content, no paid prioritization, no throttling, and greater transparency. 

“Our innovation economy depends on the equal access of ideas and the proof is in the numbers – over 6 million U.S. jobs are tied to the Internet,” Cantwell said today on the Senate floor. “The President did the right thing. He called on the FCC to make the right decision when it comes to the Internet and protecting it from cable companies who want to overcharge or slow down connections.” 

The FCC is expected to vote on the proposed rules on Feb. 26. Those rules would govern how Internet Service Providers can manage access to broadband networks, and are intended to preserve unfettered access to the Web and prohibit companies from creating two-tiered Internet with fast lanes for those who can afford to pay.  

The Internet is a $638 billion economic force, according to data in a McKinsey Global Institute report. Washington state has 191,000 internet economy jobs – and was ranked by CNBC as one of the top 5 states for innovation.  Washington also has the nation’s second-highest rate of broadband users – 88.4 percent use a fixed or mobile broadband connection. 

In January, Cantwell held a net neutrality roundtable in Seattle to hear concerns from Western Washington startups such as Moz, Cheezburger, Inc., Strange Loop Games, and Porch, who warned that a two-tiered Internet would threaten innovation. Participants said weakening open Internet rules could result in higher costs of startups and consumers. 

In 2011, Cantwell joined with Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to cosponsor legislation that would have codified net neutrality rules.