Public Knowledge Criticizes Senate Commerce Committee ActionsJune 28, 2006
For Immediate Release
The Net Neutrality amendment failed on an 11-11 vote. The ten committee Democrats joined Republican Senator Olympia Snowe voting in favor of the language with the remaining 11 committee Republicans voting against it.
The following is the statement of Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, on the Senate Commerce Committee's approval of telecommunications legislation.
“Over the course of two days, the Senate Commerce Committee handed control of Internet content to the telephone and cable companies, and control over the design of consumer electronics to the movie and recording industries. In each case, big companies win, and consumers lose.
In failing to approve strong Net Neutrality language, the Committee gave the telephone and cable companies something they have not had in the history of the Internet – a way to control what goes over the Net. They would be free to discriminate in favor of content in which they have a financial interest or in favor of those companies which can afford special new fees the companies charge. Under this regime, the telephone and cable companies would have no incentive to make any improvements to today's Internet, on which consumers, innovators and small businesses depend. We are grateful for the strong support we did receive from the Committee members who voted for Net Neutrality.
In approving the broadcast flag for video, the Committee extended the control Hollywood will have over consumers' content that they lawfully receive. Under the flag, Hollywood, acting through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will have a significant role in how consumer electronics are designed and manufactured. Once again, consumers will have their rights short-circuited when it comes to using their devices lawfully. Although the Committee did not approve content controls for digital radio, the language of the bill makes clear that one will eventually be enacted, if not by a stacked committee created by the bill, then by the FCC later on.
Despite today's events, Public Knowledge will continue to fight for a telecommunications bill that protects the rights of consumers to have access to an open Internet and to engage in lawful uses of copyrighted content.
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Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution.
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