Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 3:09am
CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW TO PROTECT INTERNET FREEDOM AND INNOVATION
[SOURCE: The Hill, AUTHOR: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)]
[Commentary] An important task facing Congress as we assemble our to-do list for July is addressing the question of â€œnetwork neutrality.â€ For good reasons, net neutrality has become a major focus in the debate on the legislation to grant national video licenses to telecommunications companies. Network neutrality refers to the principle underlying the development of the Internet, essentially ensuring that all data traveling across the network is treated in a nondiscriminatory manner. For businesses, civic organizations or alumni associations, that means selling a product, announcing an initiative or organizing an event is as easy as setting up a website that is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. For the consumer, it means easy access to an ever-expanding array of services, products and information of their choosing. Network neutrality serves as the Internetâ€™s nondiscrimination policy and is similar to policies that ensure large phone companies like Verizon and BellSouth have to connect calls from Sprint or T-Mobile with the same speed and accuracy that they would for their own calls. Since its inception, this powerful medium has flourished as an engine for economic growth and political activism under the rules of equal access to the Internet. Congress needs to address this issue before, not after, the phone and cable companies fundamentally change the nature of the Internet. We have all seen the dynamic change that it has brought to our country and, indeed, the world. Congress shouldn't just sit by and watch network neutrality and the vibrancy of the Internet slip away.
NET NEUTRALITY IS REALLY NET NOT-SO-NEUTRAL
[SOURCE: The Hill, AUTHOR: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)]
[Commentary] The success of this relatively new medium is in no small part due to the hands-off approach government has taken when it comes to regulation and taxation. The Internet has proved once and for all that free markets work best. Like always though, some see a free market and experience an urge to impose government regulation. Today there is a push on Capitol Hill to have government take a bigger role in the Internetâ€™s basic functioning. That ought to concern all of us. Any effort to impose new regulations on the Internet should be cause for a serious study of the potential ramifications. We all know that when it comes to regulations government has repeatedly failed to follow the old maxim that says, â€œIf it ain't broke, don't fix it.â€ Once enacted, regulations almost always have unintended consequences and are virtually impossible to repeal. Thatâ€™s why the concept of net neutrality has prompted such debate over the past weeks. The stakes are enormous when you begin tinkering with a resource millions upon millions of Americans depend on every day. It would be irresponsible for Congress to regulate blindly, but that appears to be what some are asking us to do with net neutrality. Sometimes itâ€™s more responsible not to act. Congress ought to continue exercising its oversight authority, and the Commerce Committee should monitor the functioning of the Internet, but we must resist interfering as much as possible. Over the past months we've worked to address the serious online sexual-predator problem that presents a discernible threat to the Internet and American families. It should be clear that we have enough real challenges ahead without Congress leaping to create solutions for problems that may not actually exist.
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