Dear Mr. & Mrs. Thauvin:
I am writing to you today to update you on efforts to protect a free and open Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs. As you may know, "network neutrality" is the concept that consumers and innovators have the freedom to access any lawful content, use any application, and connect any device on their internet service. I believe that the Internet's core qualities of openness and neutrality have long been a primary catalyst for innovation of new applications, and form the foundation of the Internet. It has allowed start-up entrepreneurs a chance to bring new innovations that can compete with established technologies and industries.
I believe that the original spirit behind the Internet has enhanced our democratic process because it allows for every voice to be heard. Without proper enforcement of network neutrality, a host of issues may arise. A lack of network neutrality could limit a consumer's access to certain technologies and services, and could stifle the innovation of small startup companies because they can't afford a special Internet "fast-lane." In the last few years, some internet service providers have tried network traffic policies that blocked or degraded services that competed with their own content and services. These practices may have been implemented with good intentions, but they crossed a bright boundary by discriminating among different types of traffic on networks that should be open to all users and applications.
That is why I am a sponsor of H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009. This legislation would cause the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies to guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by the operators of the networks that make up the Internet based upon that content's source, ownership, or destination. I look forward to supporting the principles of openness and neutrality in the coming months in hearings of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, of which I am a member.
Additionally, I am pleased that the FCC has recently proposed to codify and extend its own previous guidelines, adopted in 2005, which had entitled consumers to their choice of internet content, applications and devices, as well as competition among providers. According to FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski, the Commission's current proposal is to add that Broadband providers cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, favor certain content or applications over others and cannot disfavor an internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider. The proposal also requires that broadband providers must be transparent about the service they are providing and how they are running their networks. You can find more information about the FCC's openness rulemaking here:
Maintaining freedom and openness on the Internet is one of my top priorities. I'm interested to know what you think about network openness or any other issue that concerns you. I encourage you to contact me through my website at http://www.house.gov/inslee/contact.
Very truly yours, JAY INSLEE, Member of Congress
November 4, 2009
Dear Mr. Thauvin:
Thank you for your interest in telecommunications regulations, specifically "Net Neutrality." I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, the Net Neutrality debate focuses on the ability of all consumers to access Internet content and run the applications and devices of their choice. The principle of Net Neutrality guarantees that the consumer would have access to all websites and search engines on an equal basis. The consumer would still decide which Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet access speed, such as dial-up or broadband, to use and pay for, but the ISP would not be able to give special preference to certain websites over others, regardless of which service the consumer chooses.
This year, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA-7) introduced H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which would establish certain Net Neutrality duties for broadband providers. This bill would prohibit broadband providers from discriminating against Internet users, ensure that Internet service is provided to any person who seeks it, and not prioritize certain internet traffic over others. So far this year, no similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.
In September 2009, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Julius Genachowski, announced that the FCC would promulgate rules to implement Net Neutrality. These rules, which are similar to what has been proposed by Congress in years past, would entitle all users who wish to use the Internet to access it, allows users to decide which websites and ISPs they want to use, prohibits discrimination of content by service providers, and increases transparency between ISPs and consumers. These rules will be introduced at the October 2009 meeting of the FCC, and are subject to a rulemaking process that is only in its early stages right now.
I support the long-standing principles of open access to the Internet and believe that access to the Internet is vital to education, communications, and economic growth. In addition, I support efforts that would increase innovation and competition when it comes to telecom and Internet services, as well as efforts to bring broadband to more Americans. I also believe that a primary reason the Internet has prospered is because government has not unnecessarily imposed in its operations, and that Congress must be extremely cautious in legislating on the Internet.
Rest assured, I will continue to work to ensure that consumers have open and fair access to the Internet during the 111th Congress. And, I will be sure to keep your views in mind as Congress deals with Net Neutrality and other telecommunication issues. Thank you again for your interest in this issue.
I hope all is well in Everett.
United States Senator
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