FCC 'Net Neutrality' Rules Would Keep the Web Free for Speech and Trade

Internet providers can and will cheat on service unless the government acts.

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There is no truth to the claim that network neutrality would somehow inhibit broadband deployment. Experience proves this. In 2006, as part of its decision authorizing AT&T to acquire BellSouth, the FCC required the merged company to observe network neutrality principles for two years. During that time, AT&T's investment actually increased, and it became the leading investor among all Internet service providers.

Network neutrality is not just good for the economy but also essential for democratic self-expression. Musicians and other artists have used the Internet to transform traditional distribution models; record companies no longer have a stranglehold on distribution. Political organizations and social action groups now organize on Facebook and Twitter and have decentralized and democratized fundraising on the Internet. Artistic, social, and political speech is generally afforded the highest degree of protection under the First Amendment, but we now

face the prospect of private censorship from Internet service providers. Network neutrality will preclude interference with protected speech and thereby fulfill the Founding Fathers' intention that there be a vibrant marketplace of ideas so that educated citizens can make wise decisions at the ballot box.

It is important to stress that network neutrality protects only lawful content. Internet service providers will always be able to enforce prohibitions on pirated material and unlawful obscenity. Emergency services for first responders can also be given priority. Network neutrality also gives service providers adequate flexibility for intelligent and reasonable management of their network systems.

In short, network neutrality is about your freedom to use the full potential of the Internet for commercial, political, artistic, and social expression. We need it, and that is why the FCC needs to act on its proposal. Not to do so would be an unfortunate action.

Read why FCC rules are a bad idea, by Barbara Esbin of the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

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