As FCC Weighs Net Neutrality, McCain Tosses in Monkey Wrench

As the Federal Communications Commission meets today to develop
some “rules of the road” for the Internet, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Sarah Palin) has thrown up a roadblock.

The bitter, defeated presidential nominee today introduced legislation that would block
the FCC from creating new “net
neutrality” rules.

Net neutrality refers to consumer protections that
would prevent
companies that operate the broadband network, such as AT&T and
Comcast, from slowing or selectively blocking content on the World Wide

The new rules under FCC consideration would forbid service providers
from blocking access to lawful traffic or their competitors' sites and
require transparency for their own management policies.

Opponents are
concerned that the new regulations could hinder the development of the
Internet. McCain claims in a written statement that net neutrality rules would create “onerous
federal regulation.”

But supporters contend that without stronger rules, the
Internet could fall prey to the very companies that deliver online
services. Groups such as see equal access to the Internet as critical to a healthy democracy.

“It's an infrastructure that we've got to guarantee certain protections
to, so that it's not an infrastructure that's only provided to people
who can pay their rate, but an infrastructure that's important to get
out to everyone,” says Tim Karr, the group's campaign director.

According to Karr, the U.S. has already fallen behind other
developed countries, with nearly 40 percent of Americans lacking a
high-speed Internet connection. “Most of those people are lower-income, in rural areas; communities of
color are also disproportionately offline,” Karr contends. “So, we have a challenge, not
only to make sure that the Internet is open and free, but also to get
more people connected.”

Besides increasing Internet access, net neutrality is about preventing potentially restrictive management policies, according to Amalia Deloney, coordinator of the grassroots
network of media justice advocates known as MAG-Net.

“We know that we can't get to that place of having universal broadband
that's affordable, accessible, all of those things, without really
being able to deal with net neutrality,” she says. “And so, we see net neutrality
as a necessary step.”

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