WASHINGTON, May 20 – In a Senate floor speech today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) read some of the more than 19,000 comments that consumers sent through his Senate website to the Federal Communications Commission demanding a free and open Internet.
Sanders also urged President Barack Obama to reassert his support for net neutrality, a stand Obama took when he first ran for the White House in 2008.
After the FCC signaled it would consider new rules governing the Internet, Sanders invited visitors to use a form on his Senate website to weigh in on what he called a “terribly misguided” proposal. The FCC is considering a policy that would let companies like Comcast and Verizon divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes and give major corporations a significant advantage over small Internet startups and grassroots political organizations.
The responses from Vermont and other states poured in:
- Anthony Drake of Moreno Valley, California, told the FCC: “Net Neutrality is vital for a free and open internet, and the economic advantages that it has brought our nation and the world. Please work to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.”
- Stamford, Vermont, resident Roy Gibson concurred, saying that Internet providers “should be treated like utilities.”
- William LaFrana of Versailles, Kentucky, said: “Everyone should have equal access to the Internet. The Internet was developed with taxpayer funding, and should not be held hostage to corporate piracy.”
- Patricia Moriarty from Harwich Point, Massachusetts, said: “The Internet is the only place where we truly have freedom of speech and the ability to freely exchange new ideas around the world. Leave the internet open.”
- Jeremy Profe from Rutherford, New Jersey, wrote: “As a citizen I am concerned about the flow of free speech being hampered by private concerns. We stand at the precipice of an Internet where voices of dissent and criticism of institutions and persons that deviate from those approved by ones ISP are relegated to grade D speeds effectively silencing them.”
- Alex Ahalifoe of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said: “Net neutrality is especially important if we are to continue to retain any sense of democracy in this country.”
- Reg Jones of Bennington, Vermont, said President Barack Obama must uphold his campaign promise to enforce net neutrality. “Internet access should be for the good of all, not for the select few who already have too much power and more money than they need.”
Sanders echoed that final point in his Senate speech. He said Americans are frustrated that they elected a candidate who took a clear position on net neutrality only to see his appointees to the FCC move in a different direction. “It is simply not enough for the president to sit on the sidelines on this issue. We need him to speak out for net neutrality, as he did when he campaigned for president,” Sanders said.