After the Federal Communications Commission passed newly proposed net neutrality rules on Thursday that would allow broadband providers to charge companies for faster delivery of their content, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who has called this issue “the free speech issue of our time,” blasted the FCC’s vote. He said it could lead to fast lanes on the Internet and hand the Internet to corporations.
“Today’s vote, plain and simple,” Senator Franken (D-MN) said in a statement. “Because of net neutrality, the Internet has been a tremendous platform for innovation and connectivity. But the FCC has taken a woefully misguided step toward handing the Internet over to big corporations who can pay boatloads of money for preferential treatment. Anyone who values a free and open Internet should be deeply troubled by the FCC’s vote, and I plan to do everything I can to convince them that they need to change course.”
Net neutrality means that all legal content on the Internet is treated equally. President Obama was one of the earliest supporters of net neutrality (as he should be given how he used the Internet to run a campaign of the people). Franken’s office explained the Senator’s position on net neutrality, saying Franken believes the Internet belongs to the people:
Sen. Franken has said net neutrality is the principle that the Internet belongs to the people, not huge corporations. That means Internet service providers can’t pick and choose what content will reach consumers. Net neutrality prevents Internet service providers from charging for preferential access to their customers. Sen. Franken has also said that net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time, calling the Internet the public square of the 21st century and a marketplace for new businesses and new ideas.
Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been pushing the plan to replace the rules that were overruled by a federal court in January. This vote is not the changing of the rules, but rather marks the commencement of the formal, four month comment period. In other words, weigh in now if you want to be heard.
Of course corporations want to appropriate the Internet; it is the one place where the people’s voice can be heard without corporate spin. The Internet saved us from a President Romney. If corporations are allowed to buy fast lanes on the Internet, the Internet will lose the democracy inherent in it right now. And while that would be a tragedy for democracy, the corporations need to understand that it will only push innovative young minds to come up with a new way to communicatate without the interference of corporate agendas.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.