United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-2309
December 1, 2009
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on the importance of net neutrality. I share your concerns on this issue. In fact, I’ve recently given a speech on this very topic which I have attached for your consideration.
There are two major issues that drive the need for net neutrality legislation: censorship and innovation. Right now, there is no statute that prevents internet service providers from slowing down or stopping internet content or communications that they disagree with. If internet service providers are able to control the speed at which content moves, they come close to deciding what content moves at all. This would have a particularly egregious outcome for our state, as many Minnesotans only have one internet service provider to choose from.
There is also no statute that prohibits internet service providers from cutting special deals with big companies to make sure that those companies’ sites and applications get to users faster. The internet was designed to be a place where the lone blogger or little startup can take on–and beat–a media conglomerate or Fortune 500 company, for the benefit of American citizens and consumers alike. The absence of these protections–and the concrete actions that some internet services providers have taken in light of this–threaten to do away with the internet as a marketplace of products and ideas.
The government has a role in making sure the internet is a neutral platform for speech, debate, and creativity. Regulation isn’t always the answer, but it is necessary in this case to ensure that free speech and competition on the internet don’t lose out to big business.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued proposed regulations aimed at keeping the internet free and open. I plan to study these closely, and will soon be issuing comments on them. I do believe, however, that the FCC has taken a value first step in addressing this problem.
Thanks again for contacting me, and please don’t hesitate to do so again in the future regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.