MCLU Files Net Neutrality Comments to FCC

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 8, 2010 12:00 am

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Portland – Today the MCLU and dozens of Mainers filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to enact proposed network neutrality rules. While the FCC suffered a legal setback Tuesday in asserting network neutrality rules under Title I of the Communications Act, the FCC still has authority under Title II to preserve network neutrality. The FCC deadline for public comments on proposed rules for “Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Practices” (GN Docket No. 09-191; WC Docket No. 07-52) has been extended until April 26th, 2010.

“Net neutrality means a free and open Internet and the freedom to choose what content you read and what applications you use,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “The Internet has always been an arena of democracy where every person could speak up and be heard, and the FCC should do its best to keep it that way.”

As a result of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality principles that had been in place since the inception of the Internet were put in jeopardy. Since then, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe has led the way proposing legislation at the federal level last Congressional session. (Snowe announced in October, 2009 that she would consider introducing network neutrality legislation again if the FCC fails to act.) On June 21st, 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed LD 1675, “Resolve, Regarding Full, Fair and Nondiscriminatory Access to the Internet,” a resolve passed by the Maine legislature expressing support for network neutrality.

“Non-discrimination has been a powerful principle of the Internet since its inception,” said Zachary Heiden, Legal Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “In the same way that everyone’s phone calls are treated the same by the phone companies, everyone’s website should be treated the same too.”

According to Dr. Tim Wu of Columbia University, the professor who coined the term Net Neutrality, “companies like AT&T are infrastructure providers, almost like the roads — and their plans are very much simple tollbooths placed on a utility necessary for the operation of the private market.”

Net neutrality ensures that internet service providers don’t censor certain content because they disagree with the message or discriminate against certain content providers. Already, Network providers have begun to engage in content and user discrimination. In 2006, BellSouth denied access to in Tennessee and Florida. That same year, Cox Cable blocked its customers from accessing the online classified site The dispute in court on Tuesday arose from Comcast interfering with file-sharing by its customers.

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