Clinton Backing Net Neutrality Once Again
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current Democratic front runner for the presidential nomination, again spoke out in favor of internet neutrality this month. With a discussed National Broadband Internet System, Senator Clinton claims she can expand the high tech sector and create much needed jobs.
Clinton proposes to use government aid to subsidize the private sector with incentives to move into areas that would normally be looked at as cost prohibitive such as poor urban areas and rural communities. The plan is called “Connect America” and of it Clinton says, “In the 19th century, we invested in railroads. In the 20th century, we built the interstate highway system. In the 21st century information economy, we need to invest in our information infrastructure.”
Comcast has made Net Neutrality a buzz word recently with reports that the Cable Internet provider was blocking software on its network. The software in question is BitTorrent, a popular Peer-to-Peer program, however the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported other software may be targeted as well. Seth Schoen of EFF said, “Comcast is forging TCP RST packets which cause connections to drop (a technique also used by Internet censorship systems in China). These packets cause software at both ends to believe, mistakenly, that the software on the other side doesn’t want to continue communicating.”
Charlie Douglas, a spokesman for Comcast said “We have a responsibility to manage our network to ensure all our customers have the best broadband experience possible.” he continued with “”Comcast does not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent.”
According to Senator Clinton the Internet “does not decide who can enter its marketplace and it does not pick which views can be heard and which ones silenced. It is the embodiment of the fundamental democratic principles upon which our nation has thrived for hundreds of years.” If a large ISP like Comcast alters traffic on its network to disallow certain products than it may now be time for legislation that protects the integrity of all Internet networks.
Recently Verizon was in the news for similar reasons. A pro-choice abortion group named NARAL attempted to create an opt-in SMS news alert group and was blocked by Verizon Wireless. Citing that it is company policy to block political views that it considers “highly controversial”, the company took steps to prevent its network to be used for SMS news alerts by the group. Although Verizon Wireless backed down 24 hours later due to public outcry, it is still clear that something needs to be but in place to prevent this in the future.
Senator Clinton spoke out in concern for Internet neutrality when she co-sponsored the Internet Freedom Preservation Act in 2006. This act, also referred to as the Dorgan and Snowe bill was intended to protect small businesses and consumers from ISPs offering large businesses better pricing on connectivity and gouging smaller customers. Although the bill was never passed, it has been reintroduced in 2007 again as the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. This bill if passed will amend the Telecommunications Act of 1996.