Nation's CTO reaffirms commitment to net neutrality

by Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

Aneesh Chopra, the nation's chief technology officer, reaffirmed the White House's commitment to net neutrality amid increased criticism from lawmakers that the rules could hurt investment in Internet networks.

"At a 100,000-foot view, we are committed to the notion that there should be essentially a level playing field for entrepreneurs and big firms to ride our nation’s infrastucture to compete with those applications that we think will deliver value," Chopra said in an interview on C-SPAN's Communicators program taped Friday. The show will air Saturday evening at 6 p.m.

He cautioned that concerns now being voiced by lawmakers, high-tech companies and a major labor union come before any rules have been introduced. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed the beginning of a rule-making process that will formulate new rules for how Internet service providers can manage traffic on their networks. A vote to start the months-long process is scheduled for Oct. 22.

After his appearance on C-SPAN, Chopra told me, "There aren't even any rules out yet for anyone to criticize. This is a process and [the FCC] is just at the beginning of that process."

This afternoon, 72 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter (pdf) urging Genachowski to move cautiously, saying broadband networks have expanded through competition and private investment.

"In light of the growth and innovation in new applications that the current regime has enabled, as compared to the limited evidence demonstrating tangible harm, we would urge you to avoid tentative conclusions which favor government regulation," the lawmakers said in their letter.

The letter follows a furry of criticism from the Hill in recent days of net neutrality rules.

The FCC has received about a dozen letters from Republican and Democratic governors and 18 Republican senators. The letter Friday by 72 House Democrats, includes 31 Blue Dog Democrats and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Genachowski's office declined to comment on the growing criticism.

“It's a pity that 72 members of the Blue Dog Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus are deserting one of the fundamental planks of President Obama's platform -- a free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet," Gigi Sohn, executive director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. "The people who those members of Congress represent are the most at risk from the closed, controlling Internet that the phone and cable companies want. They are being betrayed."

article originally published at Washington Post.

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