Wednesday, April 26, 2006


TEXT: Net neutrality coalition's statement following Markey amendment defeat

The following is the text of a statement provided by the "SavetheInternet"
coalition following a vote by a House committee on Wednesday rejecting an
amendment which the coalition said would have guaranteed "network
neutrality" on the Internet.

Statement dated: Wednesday, April 26, 2006
from: Coalition

Supplied by: Trevor Fitzgibbon, Fenton Communications, 202-246-5303
Craig Aaron, Free Press, 202-265-1490, x25

STATEMENT HEADLINE: House Ignores Public, Sells Out the Internet

Growing Right-Left Coalition Gains Momentum, Looks to Senate to Save Internet Freedom from Telecom Cartel

WASHINGTON -- Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee struck a
blow to Internet freedom by voting down a proposal to protect Network
Neutrality from attacks by companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.

The diverse, bipartisan Coalition vowed to
continue rallying public support for Internet freedom as the
legislation moves to the full House and Senate. In less than one week,
the coalition gathered more than 250,000 petition signatures, rallied
more than 500 blogs to write about this issue, and flooded Congress
with thousands of phone calls.

The "Markey Amendment" supporting Net Neutrality was voted down by a
vote of 34 to 22. The "Communications Opportunity, Promotion and
Enhancement Act" telecom law, or COPE Act, passed out of the committee
without any meaningful protection for Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality
means all online activity must be treated equally, and companies like
AT&T must allow Internet users to view the smallest blog just as easily
as the largest corporate Web site.

"The Commerce Committee is headed in the opposite direction of where
the American public wants to go," said Columbia Law Professor Timothy
Wu, a pro-market advocate and one of the intellectual architects of the
Net Neutrality principle."Most people favor an open and neutral
Internet and don't want Internet gatekeepers taxing and tollboothing

Major telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon are spending hundreds of
millions of dollars to get Congress to change the rules to let them
discriminate on the Internet -- forcing Web sites to pay "protection
money" to ensure their sites will work properly.

"Predictably, the careerist politicians on the House Energy and
Commerce Committee rolled right over in their frantic desire to do the
telecoms' bidding," said Craig Fields, director of Internet operations
for Gun Owners of America. "It makes no difference to them whether the
Internet will remain a free and vibrant marketplace of ideas. As far as
they are concerned, if big business is happy, all is right with
America. And so we look with hope to the Senate, that supposedly august
body, which prides itself on its more 'deliberative' pace and tone.
They paint themselves as conscientious adults -- perhaps, just perhaps,
they'll actually act like such when it is their turn to decide the
future of the Internet."

Groups on the right and left have banded together, and hundreds of
bloggers from across the political spectrum have galvanized behind this
cause, with more than 500 blogs pointing their readers to

"It's shocking that the House continues to deny the will of the people
on an issue that affects everyone so directly -- protecting the free
and open Internet," said Eli Pariser, Executive Director of
Civic Action. "Our bipartisan coalition will rally the online community
like it’s never been rallied before, and together the public will
overturn today’s enormous blow to the freedom principle that’s made the
Internet great."

"Commerce and free expression on the Internet have flourished because
it's available to everyone on the same basis," said Glenn Reynolds, of
libertarian blog "That's how it should continue to

The coalition includes: Gun Owners of America, Civic Action, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Glenn Reynolds
(a.k.a. libertarian blogger Instapundit), Parents Television Council,
United Church of Christ, the American Library Association, the Consumer
Federation of America, Consumers Union, Common Cause, Public Knowledge,
and other major public interest groups. The coalition is spearheaded by
Free Press, a national, nonpartisan group focused on media reform and
Internet policy issues. The rapidly expanding list of groups supporting
Internet freedom is available at

"The diversity of this coalition underscores the importance of this
issue," said Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and Google's
Chief Internet Evangelist. "When the Internet started, you didn't have
to get permission to start companies. You just got on the Net and
started your idea."

The COPE Act next moves from the committee to a full House vote. The
Senate Commerce Committee is expected to take up Net Neutrality
legislation in the coming weeks.

"The House vote today ignores a groundswell of popular support for
Internet freedom," said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "We
hope that the full House will resist the big telecom companies and
reject the bill. But we look to the Senate to restore meaningful
protections for net neutrality and ensure that the Internet remains
open to unlimited economic innovation, civic involvement and free

--- end of statement --

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