WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 - The internet is the First Amendment issue of our time, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, said at a Tuesday panel discussion hosted by the non-profit advocacy group Free Press. He chastised opponents of net neutrality for not understanding that without it, "deep-pocketed corporations can pay to get their content to you faster," and choose winners and losers.
"I've heard from ...speeches from members of the House of Representatives that said, 'look at all the innovation we have had on the internet, all the billions and billions of dollars and investment we've had before net neutrality.'“ But Franken said this view of the internet’s recent history was mistaken.
Innovation and investment on the free and open internet didn't just happen "while" net neutrality existed, but "because" net neutrality happened.
The panel discussion following Franken's departure was dominated by Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, who criticized Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler for being "scared" that Congress will balk if he does "the right thing" by reclassifying telecommunications under the Title II public utility regulation. She was joined by actress Ruth Livier and Althea Erickson, policy director of the online marketplace Etsy.
Van Schewick added that the internet should be "application agnostic" instead of neutral, meaning that end users over the last mile should be able to pay higher fees for using more bandwidth, but internet service providers shouldn't have the right to discriminate based on the nature of applications, whether it be a text-based service or video service.
"[We] have to have a regime that gives the FCC discretion to inject itself into competitive market for applications and content," van Schewick said. Title II would solve this problem, she added, provided that the FCC apply forbearance and eliminate parts of the law that "make no sense."
Without net neutrality, startup companies face "an existential threat," van Schewick said. Venture capitalists "only invest millions of dollars into applications that users actually want" because there is a "98 percent chance of failure." That's why there are so few music startups, she said.
"So if you thought that maybe we can cushion the blow to startup innovation by letting the venture capitalists step in, you can totally forget about that."
Instead, she said the internet is an "environment that's totally screwed against" low cost innovators and startups, thanks to broadband companies that force people to pay higher fees for faster access. This leaves zero certainty for investors, she said. Title II would benefit small companies and turn the tide on ISPs. Regulation wouldn't cut into ISP's "current profits" but only their "potential profits."
Livier, a Mexican-American actress best known for starring on the Showtime TV series "Resurrection Boulevard," called net neutrality the "internet's bill of rights." She said her own Latino-centered web series, Ylse, "would have been impossible without net neutrality. It would have been impossible without that ability to prove that there's a market for [Latino] content."
Erickson said Wheeler shouldn't just sing praises of the open internet, but move to ban "fast lanes" and paid prioritization.
- Many Facets of Wireless Industry Join to Celebrate Launch of OnGo Using Mid-Band Spectrum
- Benton Foundation Renamed Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, Renewed Focus on Advanced Internet Networks
- Who’s On First? Congress Upset With Wasteful and Petty Antitrust Squabbles Between Justice and FTC
- Broadband Roundup: CBRS on a Roll, Innovation Fund in Rural California, Another Verizon 5G Announcement
- Broadband Roundup: FCC Announces More Rural Funding, Everyone On Expands Footprint, US Telecom Gets Political
Intellectual Property2 months ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Broadband Data4 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Broadband Data3 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
Privacy and Security2 weeks ago
Comparing Privacy Policies for Wearable Fitness Trackers: Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Under Armour
Broadband Roundup1 month ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set
Drones1 month ago
Greater Commercial Use of Drones Will Force Revisions of Federal Aviation Administration Regulations, Say Experts
Expert Opinion2 months ago
Geoff Mulligan: A ‘Dumb’ Way to Build Smart Cities
Fiber1 month ago
‘Dig Once’ Provides Future-Proofing Solution for Federal Highway Infrastructure, Says BroadbandNow