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Policy

2:00pm February 17, 2011

Clyburn Testifies Before Congress In Support of Net Neutrality

mignon-clyburn

Referring to the Internet as “a great equalizer,” Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn testified before the House Sub-committee on Communications and Technology about her support for an open network architecture and net neutrality rules.

“The current success of the Internet is largely due to its open architecture,” Ms. Clyburn said. “It allows traditionally underrepresented groups to have an equal voice and equal opportunity.”

Ms. Clyburn further stated her belief that, in order to maintain the Internet’s openness, it was important for the FCC to formalize into rules in December 2010 the four open network principles originally agreed upon by the FCC in 2005.

Ms. Clyburn addressed the criticisms that have been lodged against the FCC’s net neutrality rules.  Among the critiques are disappoint with the ostensibly short amount of time the FCC used to consider proposed net neutrality rules; that the rules were imposed on a broadband access market that works well; that the rules would have a negative impact on investment and innovation; and that existing laws provide sufficient consumer protections.

Clyburn admitted that she would not sway many on the sub-committee to her point of view.  She may be right. Prior to last year’s mid-term elections, a bipartisan group of House members expressed their reservations about the FCC implementation of net neutrality rules for which there was no statutory authority.

A House controlled by the Republican Party and a Senate that has grown more conservative due to the GOP winning additional seats last fall may prove an impediment to the FCC’s net neutrality rules going into full effect.

In addition, the GOP, very soon after the FCC announced its net neutrality rules, made it clear that the party’s intent is to repeal the rule, probably with the use of the Congressional Review Act.  The Act would allow Congress to repeal the rule without the threat of filibuster as their was majority support for repeal.  Reportedly among those GOP members that support using the Act to repeal the rule is the sub-committee’s chairman, Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon.



About the Author

Alton Drew
Alton Drew provides advocacy, legal and legislative analysis, and legislative monitoring services for not-for-profit associations and foundations with a particular emphasis on broadband adoption, spectrum, and local community development. Using various social media platforms, Mr. Drew amplifies messages for not-for-profit associations and foundations as part of their online media campaigns. Follow him on Twitter @altondrew; Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alton.drew.5; or visit him at www.lawandpoliticsofbroadband.com or www.lawandpoliticsofcapital.com.




 
 

 
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6 Comments


  1. Observer

    Net neutrality does not mean equal opportunity.

    It means continuation of what we have now — some have access,some don't.

    "Net neutrality" does nothing to change that.


  2. S. Witter

    I agree that the Internet is "a great equalizer" — but only in its natural, unregulated state. We need focus on closing the digital divide rather than on needless regulatory initiatives like net neutrality. Only then will all Americans, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, be poised to succeed on an equal playing field.


    • JCraig

      Exactly. The Internet has worked just fine for those who are connected, with the exception of a couple incidents where corporations were outted and publicly shamed, there is not "real" issue here. I'm all for consumer protection and transparency, but the energy should be focused on getting more communities connected.


  3. guest

    It will be interesting to see how this will play out in court and on the Hill, but I, for one, am glad to see some of the policy discussions return to elements of the National Broadband Plan. The more we can do to put the focus on adoption and digital literacy, the better.

    Broadband enables so many opportunities but in order to realize these opportunities we need to ensure that everyone understands how to use the technology to positively impact their life.


  4. John_Q_Public

    Ms. Clyburn is wrong. I think she fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between innovation, access, and regulation. As a self-proclaimed champion of the under-served, she should have spent her time and energy focused on the issue of broadband adoption, not broadband regulation. It was a missed opportunity on her part.


  5. Luce

    Luce,

    Clyburn is correct in her statements. The internet affords all a fair chance to be heard and seen. It will only evolve throughout the years and then we will have to assure laws are in place to keep the equality.



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