Commlaw Source

FOLLOWING THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY AND RELATED LEGAL TOPICS

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pat Robertson and Moby Walk Into a Bar....

What do Michael Stipe of R.E.M, Gun Owners of America and the Feminist Majority have in common? There's no punch line. R.E.M., Gun Owners of America, the United Church of Christ and the Feminist Majority are all members of the Save the Internet Coalition and they had a big press conference here in DC yesterday.

Yesterday's Coalition press event was aimed at AT&T, Verizon, and other supporters of H.R. 5252, the Barton bill, which would allow broadband companies like AT&T and cable modem providers to provide "priority access" to the the sites of companies willing to pay for it; in effect tiered classes internet service for a fee. Barton's bill does not include the FCC's statement of net freedoms, but says the FCC can investigate charges of discriminatory pricing only on a case-by-case basis.

Net neutrality advocates were likely pleased yesterday when Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, introduced H.R. 5417, which would make it an antitrust violation to set preferential rates for Internet services. As National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow said yesterday, "This [net neutrality] is now the number one issue." In fact, people on the Hill who didn't know how to turn on a computer six months ago are now passionately arguing the pros and cons of net neutrality. Stay tuned, the crowd is likely to get bigger and even more diverse...

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