Democrats may speak up for net neutrality

Several Senate Democrats express concern about Net neutrality, as Stevens introduces bill with very weak protections.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) is concerned about the lack of net neutrality, News.com reports. Speaking on a panel at a broadband policy summit in Washington, James Assey Jr., Democratic counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee, said: "I'm not sure that we see anything wrong with setting up some rules of the road that will make sure everyone plays fair."

"I don't view this as new regulation of the Internet," said Assey, who added that Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat, is concerned about laissez-faire rules. "In fact, I view it as reaffirming what has been a very old principle...that network operators with an ability and incentive to discriminate be prevented from doing so."

The current Senate bill includes no guarantees of a neutral net but requires the Federal Communications Commission to report to Congress periodically on any problems that may develop. The House telecom bill forbids the FCC to issue regulations about net neutrality. According to Sen. Ted Stevens' staff director, the chairman was "troubled by the prospect of discrimination by network operators but ultimately decided to take the current hands-off approach after hearing from Wall Street interests testifying at a committee hearing that governmental intervention would chill investment." The Internet companies haven't taken it lying down.

[Stevens' aid, Lisa, Sutherland] described what she called an "unprecedented" number of meetings, forums and lunches with Microsoft, Google, and "everybody I can think of that has an opinion on this."

As many as 600,000 letters from constituents related to the Net neutrality issue have streamed into the offices of congressional members since the House Energy and Commerce Committee's recent approval of its own telecommunications bill, said Johanna Shelton, the committee's Democratic counsel.

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