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Life in the fast lane: reactions to the FCC's bungled net neutrality message

Life in the fast lane: reactions to the FCC's bungled net neutrality message

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The FCC has had a rough couple days. Controversy exploded yesterday when a Wall Street Journal report warned that the commission is considering new rules that would tear down the core principles of net neutrality and allow already-powerful internet service providers to act as the internet's greedy gatekeepers. Since then, the FCC has made several attempts to reverse the panic and outrage that quickly set in after the report that Chairman Tom Wheeler blasted as "flat out wrong."

But thanks in no small part to overly vague and mixed messages, it hasn't made much progress. In the meantime, politicians, advocacy groups, and others continue to relentlessly berate the FCC over a spineless approach that could allow massive corporate entities to wield even greater influence over the internet. We've collected some of that early feedback below.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.):

"Under this terribly misguided proposal, the Internet as we have come to know it would cease to exist and the average American would be the big loser. We must not let private corporations turn bigger and bigger profits by putting a price tag on the free flow of ideas.

"Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally. We must not turn over our democracy to the highest bidder."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif):

Like many Internet users, I fear that the latest round of proposed net neutrality rules from the FCC will not do enough to curtail discrimination of Internet traffic, but rather leave the door open to discrimination under more ambiguous terms.

For me to support 'commercially reasonable' agreements between financially liquid online content companies and broadband providers for faster Internet speeds, there must be zero uncertainty left in the minds of consumers, small businesses and innovators that they are competing on a level playing field with their peers. Fundamentally, consumers and businesses must be protected from actions by online gatekeepers that threaten free speech, harm competition or diminish the continued openness of the Internet.

I will stringently evaluate the Chairman's proposal to ensure that these core values are elevated by any final net neutrality rules.

Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps:

If true, this proposal is a huge step backwards and just must be stopped. If the Commission subverts the Open Internet by creating a fast lane for the 1 percent and slow lanes for the 99 percent, it would be an insult to both citizens and to the promise of the Net.

Updated May 1, 2014 to include new reaction from Sen. Sanders.

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