Letter to Congressman Regarding Net Neutrality

I’ve been entertained lately by Fox news and some other reading on net-neutrality.  So much so, in fact, I felt obliged to write my Congressman John Hall, who is in district 19 here in NY.  The last letter I wrote to him was begging him not to vote for Bush’s money for the banks bill that Congress really had no time to review.  He went ahead and voted for it anyway, which was disappointing.  Alas, I digress.  Here is the letter I sent him:

“It is imperative for the future success of our country that you form stringent opposition to Sen. John McCain’s proposals against net neutrality. Net neutrality is making the infrastructure neutral, meaning data is data no matter who put it on the wire.

Forcing people (or allowing) payment in return for priority on the national grid is absurd, and will only serve to keep and strengthen the basic oligopoly that stands to weaken and destroy our country.
Separating the infrastructure from the content providers is paramount to quality, affordable prices, and universal access to services. It is time we catch up to the rest of the world on this issue. We have gone from 4th to 15th in broadband penetration due to the policies of the last administration, and cannot afford to slip backwards any longer (even though we are still declining.) Please read the Berkman Broadband Study (Harvard University) here: http://www.fcc.gov/stage/pdf/Berkman_Center_Broadband_Study_13Oct09.pdf which was presented to the FCC for a better understanding of what the government policies across the globe have accomplished as compared to ours here in the United States. It is very well researched and makes it very obvious where Mr. McCain gets his money. They spend less, and their country gets more. The trend is not in our favor, and will only get worse if we keep or strengthen the current policies in place today.

Don’t let us down!

I try to stay informed the best I can on this issue, and hopefully when it comes time to vote, we can see some real change.  Here is the response I received from Congressman Hall:

Thank you for contacting me about “net neutrality.”  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Over the last decade, the Internet has grown and evolved at a rapid pace. People now shop online for clothes, cars and even groceries. People can buy music and movies and download them immediately. They can also send photos and home movies to friends and family all over the world.  The development of the Internet has revolutionized the way people communicate, innovate, and do business all over the world.

I believe that much of the Internet’s ability to spur innovation and change is rooted in the ability of individuals to enjoy equal access to a wide array of sites and services.  There is significant concern that this principle, known as “net neutrality,” could be undermined by 2005 decisions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)and the U.S. Supreme Court that broadband Internet service is an information service as opposed to a telecommunications service, and therefore not subject to the more stringent regulations that govern telecommunications services.  Specifically, questions have been raised about whether or not telecommunications providers will be able to create a “two-tiered” internet that will allow individuals to connect to provider-owned or favored sites and services more quickly than those run by competitors or small businesses and groups that cannot afford to pay for high-speed preference.

I am concerned that compromising the principle of net neutrality would undermine the fundamental principle of open access that has fueled the growth of the Internet, and could hurt consumer choice, discriminate against sites involved in public discourse or espousing political views, and disadvantage small businesses.

I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as Congress considers this issue. Please feel free to contact my office whenever I might be of assistance to you.

What I am particularly concerned with, is this quote:

“the fundamental principle of open access that has fueled the growth of the Internet, and could hurt consumer choice, discriminate against sites involved in public discourse or espousing political views, and disadvantage small businesses.”

The rest of the world has been putting in place legislation that truly affords open access to the backbone, whereas our legislation has not.

If you managed to read this long-winded post (and maybe even that Harvard study linked up top in my letter), tell me what you think.

How do you feel about net neutrality?