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Sen. Franken Urges Major Revisions to FCC Chair's Net Neutrality Proposal
[December 14, 2010]

Sen. Franken Urges Major Revisions to FCC Chair's Net Neutrality Proposal

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 -- The office of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., issued the following news release: Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski urging him to make major revisions to his draft Order on net neutrality. While the exact language of the Order has not yet been publicly released, Chairman Genachowski's recent public remarks outlining what the draft Order might contain as well as Sen. Franken's discussions with advocates and Commission officials raised several concerns that prompted him to write the letter.

"As it is currently written, the draft Order may do more harm than doing nothing at all," Sen. Franken wrote in the letter. "If this Order is adopted as drafted, it would be the first time in the Commission's history that it effectively legitimated blatantly discriminatory conduct on the Internet--against lawful applications, content, and devices." Sen. Franken said that this would be a "sad milestone" for the Commission.

You can read the full text of the letter here: Sen. Franken outlined three specific areas of concern. First, Sen. Franken said he believed that the draft Order would effectively permit the blocking of lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections, reversing the FCC's practice of protecting and investing in mobile broadband service. Sen. Franken noted that this would impair a service that many Americans see as the future of the Internet, and which is disproportionately important to rural Americans--including many Minnesotans.

Second, Sen. Franken noted that while the draft Order would enact stronger protections for Internet access over fixed connections, it does not contain a clear prohibition against paid prioritization by network operators, or what's been called the creation of an Internet "fast lane" for big companies that can afford it. Sen. Franken also said that the draft Order contains no prohibition whatsoever against paid prioritization in mobile Internet services, a "baffling" standard that "legitimates rampant paid prioritization" throughout these services. Sen. Franken describes paid prioritization as "the antithesis of net neutrality," saying that it would undermine a free and open Internet and help larger companies beat out small businesses and other competitors.

Lastly, Sen. Franken said he feared that the draft Order would define "broadband Internet access service" too narrowly, thus allowing powerful companies to circumvent any protections this framework would establish. Sen. Franken said that because of this, an Internet Service Provider could "get out of [its] obligations not to block websites by blocking websites." Sen. Franken has long been a vocal proponent of net neutrality since he first spoke out on the issue in his questioning of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings in July 2009. In August of 2010, he spoke at an event in Minneapolis hosted by the nonprofit organization Free Press, where he called net neutrality "the First Amendment issue of our time." You can find the full speech here:

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