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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Net Neutrality Wins More Senators

By Jason Lee Miller:

The Net Neutrality movement is gaining support among U.S. senators. At the close of the August recess, the coalition added four previously uncommitted legislators to the cause.

According to the website, that brings the tally to 26 senators in favor of the Snowe-Dorgan amendment to Senator Ted Stevens' sweeping telecom bill. There is ground left to make up, though, with half the Senate still uncertain.

The split is almost entirely according to party lines. All 14 of the senators who've made a stance against Net Neutrality are Republican. Of the 26 senators in favor, 24 are Democrat. Fifty-six are still uncommitted, and four straddle the fence.

The coalition reports that activists "took to the pavement" in 25 cities nationwide this week to deliver petitions to Senate members in their hometowns during recess. The outcry was enough to convince Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), James Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to pledge their support.

"We are extremely pleased that both of our New York Senators are pro Net Neutrality," said Jessica Findley, a freelance graphic designer from Brooklyn, who helped organize the New York City rally. In New York, 50,000 petitions were delivered to Schumer.

It is unknown if Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was persuaded by the crowd outside her Detroit office, where David Pettit of the Public Interest Research Group made his appeal.

"Powerful telephone company lobbyists will tell you one of two things - both of which, of course, are false," said Petit. "First, they will tell you that the Stevens bill already preserves Net Neutrality. This is completely not true. Second, they might say ‘don't regulate the Internet. Let the market decide.' ... All we want to do is reinstate the Net Neutrality principles that guarantee that the Internet treats everyone fairly."

This week, petition delivery events were held at senators' offices in Baltimore; Boston; Charleston, W.Va.; Columbus, Ohio; Eau Claire, Wis.; Fayetteville, Ark Honolulu; Louisville, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; Milwaukee; Montpelier, Vt.; Orlando; Newark, N.J.; Portland, Maine; Providence, R.I.; Seattle; Spokane, Wash.; and Wilmington, Del.


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