In Floor Speech, Cantwell Urges FCC to Preserve Net Neutrality
Senator: ‘We do not want artificial toll lanes on the innovation economy of the future’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called on the Federal Communications Commission to adopt “robust and durable” rules to preserve net neutrality and protect America’s competitiveness in a 21st Century digital economy.
In a speech on the U.S. Senate floor, Cantwell urged her colleagues to “stand up and protect the American spirt of entrepreneurship by making sure that net neutrality is the law of the land.”
“A strong and open Internet is one of the best ways to protect the innovation that supports millions of American jobs,” said Cantwell, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “Today, I’m calling on the FCC to take forceful action that adopts the strongest possible rules to provide maximum protection for consumers and maximum flexibility to promote the Internet economy.”
Net neutrality is the principle of ensuring equal access and non-discriminatory treatment for all Internet users regardless of the source or data. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules that blocked broadband providers from charging higher prices for access to Internet “fast lanes.” In response, the FCC announced in May that it was considering new rules that would allow a tiered Internet. President Obama weighed in last week by calling for the FCC to adopt strong net neutrality rules and to apply them equally to hardline and mobile broadband traffic.
“We do not want artificial toll lanes on the innovation economy of the future,” Cantwell said today. “We can't allow Internet Service Providers to set up fast lanes for those who can pay and slow lanes for those who can't. Tiered Internet would allow Internet Service Providers to cut backroom deals to determine what information America can access online.”
Cantwell has been a leader in the fight for strong net neutrality rules. In January 2011, Cantwell and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011, which would have prohibited broadband operators from requiring content, service, or application providers to pay for prioritized delivery of their Internet Protocol (IP) packets, also known as “pay-for priority.”
“I encourage the FCC to adopt robust and durable rules to prevent blocking, throttling, fast lanes, and to safeguard transparency for consumers,” Cantwell said. “These rules should apply to both wired and wireless broadband networks so that your Web browser, your personal computer and your apps on your phone are all treated in the same way.”
Below is a full transcript of Cantwell’s speech:
Madam President, I rise today to call the Senate's attention to one of the most important economic issues before us: the issue of net neutrality.
We face a pivotal moment in the fight to preserve an open and fair Internet. Last week, the President called on the FCC to protect the bedrock principle of net neutrality: A strong, open Internet is one of the best ways to protect the innovation that supports millions of American jobs.
It's one of the best ways to protect the competitiveness of the digital economy.
Right now, the FCC is working on formulating ways to protect a robust Internet. We know the FCC received over four million comments on the issue of net neutrality, and it registered many concerns by the public in making sure that we protect what has been a great resource.
They have spoken. They want to protect innovation, and they want to protect a free Internet.
Consumers should know for a fact that their Internet service is being held to the same standards as everyone else. But, we know now that there are concerns about the concentration of players in the cable and large telecom market as it continues to develop.
Today, I'm calling on the FCC to take forceful action that adopts the strongest rules possible to provide maximum protection for consumers and maximum flexibility to promote the Internet economy.
I encourage the FCC to adopt robust and durable rules to prevent blocking, throttling, and fast lanes, and to safeguard transparency for consumers.
These rules should apply both to the wired and wireless broadband networks so that your web browser, your personal computer, and your apps on your phone all are treated in the same way.
This important policy will provide certainty to the start-up and business communities the same way as it will to the Fortune 500 companies.
In other words, we will treat an entrepreneur that started their company in a garage the same way as we treat a big multinational corporation.
We need to send a clear message: We do not want artificial toll lanes on the innovation economy of the future.
It is my hope that the FCC arrives at a conclusion next year and issues these rules.
The Internet has been an engine for unprecedented economic growth for our country. Today the tech sector represents 3.9 million jobs, according to Pew Research, and it is continuing to grow. It really does represent the American entrepreneurial spirit.
YouTube was created in a garage in San Mateo. Facebook launched in a dorm room in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Amazon, when Jeff Bezos came to Bellevue, Washington, has now become a juggernaut in downtown Seattle for new growth and development.
These companies might have started in the garage, but they are supporting thousands of jobs across our country. Today, we want to make sure that the Internet is not under attack by those who would prefer a pay-for-play system.
The biggest telecom companies are trying to write the rules of the road that would crowd out some of these opportunities for unique entrepreneurs to continue to grow the application economy of the future.
That's why we can't allow Internet Service Providers to set up fast lanes for those who can pay and slow lanes for those who can't.
Our innovation economy depends on equal access for ideas.
Between 2007 and 2012, development of applications for smart phones and tablets created over 466,000 high-tech jobs, and generated more than $20 billion in annual revenue.
A tiered Internet system would put all of that at risk.
It would allow Internet Service Providers to cut backroom deals to determine what information America can access online. We live in an economy based on speed, and a tiered Internet system would give the power to set speed limits to those on the Internet or those few Internet Service Providers and what they wanted to do.
This has a major ripple effect.
Imagine you’re a doctor examining a patient via telemedicine, or a student trying to access a report through a university server. All of this put at challenge by whether they have fast access or not.
As an editorial in The Seattle Times said “American democracy is in trouble when information is throttled or controlled by a few. The FCC must reverse this shameful trend.”
What they're really trying to say is creating additional barriers is tantamount – in my mind – to creating a tax on the Internet.
A tiered Internet provider would have the reins of control, and it means that individual users could be challenged. Strong net neutrality rules will help maintain the same Internet that we have today.
That is why the FCC should act.
Across the country, innovators and entrepreneurs are experimenting with different content creation, and they rely on this open Internet to pursue those new business models. Nearly every start-up relies on understanding their product can reach any user connected to the Internet.
Allowing Internet Service Providers to erect toll lanes would threaten the fundamental nature of the Internet and every business plan of every start-up that relies on consumer’s ability for equal access to content.
We must do better than what has been done so far. I encourage this body to make sure that we, too, are going to stand up and protect the American spirit of entrepreneurship by making sure that net neutrality is the law of the land.
I thank the President. I yield the floor.
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