Saturday, June 17, 2006

Conflicting e-mails


This past week I have seen 2 different e-mails about my local representative, Jay Inslee, regarding his voting record on freedom on the Internet. The first, from moveon.org stated boldly "Your representative, Jay Inslee, dealt a blow to Internet freedom on Thursday". That ticked me off and I assumed it was true. Move On has been so far a good source of information. I also stay in touch with my local representative however. He had a lot to say about supporting "network nuetrality". Which version is the truth? The telcos already get paid for bandwith usage, it's not a matter of fairness to these large corporations that we need some sort of legislation here. It's a matter of fairness to small blogs such as this one and preventing a lock out of dissenting opinion on the Internet. Jay's e-mail to me, without the boilerplate portions follows.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Communications, Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act, H.R. 5252. I appreciate hearing from you and I too am a strong supporter of network neutrality.

I co-authored and sponsored the seminal network neutrality legislation that would preserve the Internet. The Markey/Eshoo/Boucher/Inslee amendment that was offered during consideration of COPE would bar Internet service providers from blocking, degrading or discriminating access to lawful Internet content to any customer. The opportunity to include a network neutrality provision in COPE took place on this amendment, not the following vote on the bill. You may review the speech I gave on the House floor in support of this amendment and a record of the vote on this amendment on my Web site at: www.house.gov/inslee/issues/technology/net_neutrality.html

Additionally, I am an original cosponsor of the free standing legislation entitled the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 (H.R. 5273). Similar to our amendment, this bill would prevent the creation of a two-tiered Internet in which cable and phone companies could charge Web sites for faster data transmission, or block their online competitors' content and services. I also aggressively worked to include network neutrality provisions that I co-authored during committee consideration of COPE.

The COPE Act is a comprehensive telecommunications bill that deals with many different issues, including fostering competition in the video marketplace, lowering cable costs, providing more service options, and fueling our nation's broadband deployment.

Many members, including myself, supported the network neutrality amendment and voted for final passage of COPE. The COPE bill deals with many issues, not related to network neutrality. The real network neutrality fight, and the real chance we had at fixing this problem, took place during consideration of my network neutrality amendment, not on final passage of the underlying bill.

I believe that the original spirit behind the Internet is to provide unlimited use of a diverse range of services and access to a variety of content. In addition, the Internet has enhanced our democratic process because it allows for virtually unlimited voices to be heard. Without network neutrality requirements, the innovation of small startup companies may be stifled because they can't afford a special Internet "fast-lane," even though they might be able to offer the most cutting-edge technology or content to consumers.

I believe that Congress needs to take a step forward in addressing rapidly changing telecommunications services in a manner that spurs investment in new technologies. As the COPE bill moves through the legislative process, please be assured I will continue to champion network neutrality.

In short, the battle over network neutrality is far from over. We also have an opportunity to see a network neutrality provision in the Senate bill, after which both the House and Senate would have to go to a conference committee, where we would have yet another attempt at this important issue. Moreover, there is a good chance that this bill will not be completed by the time Congress adjourns. Should that happen, however, there is also the possibility that the House could pass a stand-alone network neutrality bill, such as the one that I introduced, should control of Congress change next year.

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