Net neutrality gains political traction

Seattle Times:


The fight to maintain free and open access to the Internet has gained political strength, including a recent boost from President Obama.

Free and open access to the Internet helped the technology grow and thrive. The political fight to maintain robust access for all has picked up strength in Washington, D.C. That is good news for consumers.

The shorthand for the field of battle is net neutrality. Proponents argue that a network provider should not restrict users for reasons against their interests, such as to deny them the right to use certain services because those services are owned by somebody else.

An early pitched battle defeated legislation that would have allowed Internet access providers to charge customers variable rates by speed of service. The stakes for consumers were bluntly defined.

President Obama recently invigorated the pursuit of net neutrality in a speech about the security of U.S. interests in cyberspace. He promised to work with private industry to protect Internet technology from attack and manipulation, and at the same time protect the privacy of Americans.

Obama also pledged to "keep the Internet as it should be, open and free." Those words are part of the changing dynamic on Capitol Hill about net neutrality.

Democrats control the gavels in key committees. The president's nominee to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, is an unequivocal proponent of net neutrality, as is the new head of the Federal Trade Commission, Jon Leibowitz.

The Obama administration is intent on spreading access to the Internet to all corners of the country, and protecting consumers from having their pockets picked by inventive Internet providers.

article originally published at Seattle Times.

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