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Senators Plan Bill To Advance Net Neutrality

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) said in an interview Monday that he and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) are considering legislation aimed at helping advance the adoption of new rules on net neutrality. Such a bill could be a timetable or deadline for the Federal Communications Commission to finish its rule-making process, said Dorgan, the senior member on the Commerce Committee.

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed rules that would prevent telecommunications, cable and wireless companies from blocking or slowing Internet traffic related to specific applications or services

"It's more likely to be something that is helpful in the process," said Dorgan, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. Dorgan and Snowe have been a vocal proponents of such rules. The senators had announced they would introduce a net neutrality bill like the one introduced earlier in the month in the House by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif)., Anna Eschoo (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass).

Dorgan said he plans to discuss such options with Snowe later this week.

"I personally believe the FCC has the authority to do what the [FCC] chairman intends to do, but others might disagree with that," Dorgan said. "I think the question is if there is a way for us to be helpful as the chairman moves forward. I think we would want to introduce legislation to help the goal.

By Cecilia Kang  |  September 28, 2009; 4:55 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: Wireless Lobbyists Step Up Defensive Against Net Neutrality | Next: Worth Reading: Apple Blocks Political iPhone App? Plus, a Look at AT&T's Attack on Google Voice

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Interesting. Is the public aware that a woman named Frannie Wellings -- formerly the head PR person for the lobbying group "Free Press" (which lobbies heavily for "network neutrality" regulation on behalf of Google) -- left Free Press to become an aide in Dorgan's office and use the Senator's influence to push legislation through? Senator Dorgan's constituency in North Dakota would actually be badly hurt by "network neutrality" legislation, which would make it infeasible to operate an ISP in rural areas where bandwidth is expensive.

Posted by: squirma | September 28, 2009 11:43 PM

Google has been the only sane voice on Net neutrality outside of Waxman and just recently it seems Dorgan and Snowe. Those Google guys are more interested in fairness with the Internet than raping the consumer for excess. Seems the only Billionaires out there that are willing to put their money where their mouth is in their respective industry.

And the posting by squirma is absurd. All of America will benefit from this law. Mostly through the basic fairness that lives up to the American ideal I was sold in grade school.

Posted by: Homunculus | September 29, 2009 4:14 AM

Squirma, you are right on, and I am not sure what planet Homunculus is on. Anyone that thinks that waxman is a sane voice is either dillusional or still drinking obama kool-aid.

This legislation is clearly a part of the same power grab this entire liberal faction is after, and is a way to further control the lives of the American People... The FCC, also within this and other legislation being proposed also attempts to limit your, all of our, freedom of speech and expression whjich these fools will realize when this current bunch of power hungry morons in the white house gets ousted from office....and they will. History tells us this.

Does no one remember jimmy carter? Does no one remember bill clinton... In carter's case, the people were asleep when the mid term elections took place, so liberals maintained the house and senate leading to massive increases in cost of goods we buy, massive inlfation, huge increases in the cost of oil based products, the fall of the SHah of Iran which is why we are where we are today...and on and on and on. In clinton's case, thankfully, some of these same ridiculous and irresponsible policies may have passed as well (the same tired, old, not thought out irresponsible types of policies with destructive unintended consequences these current fools like to call new and improved because of obozo) except that the American people finally awoke and bounced the liberal faction from office. And I could go on, but I have a flight to catch.

Fact is, you kool-aid drinkers that would support this type of policy are clearly out of touch with reality, typical of liberals, and have no concept of history. Well, here's a reality check for you...this lunacy will end in 2010, just like it did in 1996...unfortunately, not due to liberals waking and growing some semblance of brain matter, but due to the fact that the REAL intellectuals are running away from obozo as fast as they can...

Posted by: cstrasburger | September 29, 2009 9:25 AM

Waxman? Why is this guy always involve in the far left liberal agenda? I will leave that open to your interpetration. Here is my view of what this means. Get set to pay TAXES to use the internet on everything from pet medication to home items. This is all about controlling the internet for the express purpose of TAXING the public to death and pushing the extreme left view upon us. Remember ACORN? Well, the NAACP is now pushing to give prisoners the right to vote. Isn't it funny that 90% of prisoners are black and tend to vote for Democrats? But if you oppose this, you are a RACIST!

Posted by: joe221 | September 29, 2009 9:38 AM

For those of you who support this concept, I hope the kid next door to you starts to download the Library of Congress everyday for the next 7 years, and your connection gets to wait to complete every one of your requests. So then you 'demand' that your ISP fix this egregious error by building out new services to your house, which of course you do not want to pay for. So then you'll want more legislation to force them to 'serve you' as you deserve at their cost of operating capital and lost profits. Great idea. All we have to do is allow the cost-causer's to be the cost-payer's and throttle their connection for the good of us all.

Posted by: Husker50 | September 29, 2009 9:46 AM

Could the US Senate do something worthwhile for a change? Hope is eternal!

Posted by: ErnieNucup | September 29, 2009 10:25 AM

I have an interesting question, and I am hoping someone can please answer this:

Will net-neutrality laws allow individuals who file-share copyrighted material, more leeway in doing so?

As some of you may know, Comcast, Charter, AT&T, etc are internet providers who have been known to cut, or threaten to cut, a users internet service if the file-sharing continues. However, the reason such actions occur are due to third party interventions such as the BSA, who send letters to ISP's urging them to take action on such individuals or face charges of facilitating illegal activity.

Under the Digital Millennium Act it is implied that internet providers are not liable for actions taken by those using their services. For this reason, it seems odd to me that these letters are sent out. Will these net neutrality principles, then, also be imposed to this regard.

In short, I suppose my question is: will these new net-neutrality principles facilitate illegal file sharing? Or, in other words, will these principles allow those users of the internet the freedom of transferring data of their choosing?

Posted by: charlie27 | September 29, 2009 11:24 AM

When I read any article purporting as this one does … Senators Plan Bill To Advance Net Neutrality … or using words like transparency, honesty, disclosure … I am instantly reminded of that old joke … “how can you tell a politician is lying, (answer) whenever his/her mouth moves” … it no longer matters what their political affiliation is as they all feed at the same campaign trough copiously filled by for-profit-corporate-interest$ …
Like “Deep Throat” noted in … All The President’s Men … “just follow the money” …

Paul F Miller

Posted by: pfmpaul | September 29, 2009 12:05 PM

"charlie27" asks:

Will net-neutrality laws allow individuals who file-share copyrighted material, more leeway in doing so?

The answer is that they would. Here's why: ISPs cannot tell for sure whether copyrighted content is being legally downloaded or illegally downloaded. So, even if a download shows signs of being illegal (for example, it's coming from "The Pirate Bay," or the file name contains the name of a popular first run movie), they won't dare block it because the law would impose penalties if they were wrong.

So, even though the laws explicitly say that its OK to block illegal activity, in reality it would be open season for copyright infringement of all kinds.

Posted by: squirma | September 29, 2009 12:43 PM

squirma you are so must be one of those Chicken Little Republicans who think that Corporations can do no wrong and they only look out for the best interest of everybody.

Guess what...they don't. They only care about their profit and how many billions they can rack up at the consumers expense.

As an Internet hosting provider myself I know for a FACT that bandwidth is cheaper then it's sold for. Raising the fees for Bandwidth is just a ripoff of the consumer. The lines are existing and even maintenance cost are built in to what we pay now. The use PUBLIC RITE-OF-WAY and pay NO FEES for that use. Public land and even private land is used with NO FEES being paid to the public. Upgrades...they get tax breaks for every upgrade yet still charge the public a service tax for future upgrades.

Telcos are being paid many times over for their network upgrades & maintenance by both the Federal Government, the State Government and even the consumer.

Why should they NOT take responsibility to run and manage their own business????

Corporations today have NO responsibility to anyone. They loose money yet still pay hundreds of millions in bonus money to executives and they cry for a Government bailout!!!

Net Neutrality is just one small way to level the playing field so the BIG BOY'S don't step on the backs of the small startup and the consumer by squashing competition and innovation.


You sir are very wrong!!!

Posted by: imZandor | September 29, 2009 12:56 PM

Wow, there's so much misunderstanding here I barely know where to start.

Net neutrality, basically, says that ISP's cannot block or cripple legal content on the Internet.

cstrasburger, net neutrality does not in any way reduce freedom of expression - in fact, it insures it.

We do not allow the telephone company to block certain numbers, or to block calls to politicians they disagree with, or to require businesses to pay for your call to go through to them. The principle is that you pay for the call, you get to pick who you call. This gives the Internet the same protection.

Husker 50, net neutrality allows for network management, which means you can charge more for more usage as long as you disclose what your plan is. So if the kid next door is downloading the Library of Congress, he's going to have to pay for the extra bandwidth. Unless his dad is a billionaire, ain't a gonna happen.

squirma, net neutrality does not make rural bandwidth less available. I have no idea where you got that idea, so it's difficult to refute other than to point out that it is inaccurate. Net neutrality does not affect rural bandwidth availability. I do live in a rural area, so I am fairly sensitive to this concern.

squirema, you are also mistaken about blocking malicious sites. That is permitted under reasonable network management.

Blocking according to filenames is rather exceptionally stupid and a poor network management tool. Think of the case of the professor who got a copyright infringement letter on his a capella songs which happened to have a file name similar to a movie for why - or the obvious workaround for cheaters, which is simply renaming the files. Methods that frequently block legitimate content and can be bypassed by an average five year old are not the choice of network managers with IQ's in 3 digits (or even high 2 digits.)

Net neutrality does not make it harder to block illegal content by any method actually used by reasonably competent network professionals.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | September 29, 2009 3:24 PM

Thank you VirginiaGal 2, An island of common sense, in a morass of morasses.

Posted by: swiftone | September 30, 2009 5:31 AM

There are certain realities in the marketplace. Broadband, both wired and wireless, is a commodity. Carriers have tried to avoid this issue for many years by controlling access to off deck mobile products and access discrimination. By extending net neutrality to wireless networks, Congress will be enforcing market realities, not choosing market winners and losers. We, as consumers and professionals, need an open and unfettered marketplace to spur innovation. This will be a powerful move in the mobile marketplace - equivalent to the rules that allowed mobile number porting. Let mobile and digital products operate across networks. -- by the Mobile Lawyer.

Posted by: Web20Lawyer | September 30, 2009 6:12 AM

VirginiaGal2, would you just happen to be employed by one of the DC lobbying groups which is lobbying, on behalf of Google, for this stifling regulation?

As I've said in other comments on this blog, ISPs do not censor the Internet. In fact, no American ISP has ever blocked content. (A Canadian one did -- once -- when the site contained illegal death threats.) And there's no reason to expect they ever will. The whole notion is simply a bogeyman ginned up by lobbyists, mainly working for Google, who want the Internet regulated in a way that gives an advantage to Google.

Posted by: squirma | September 30, 2009 10:16 AM

Squirma, it would be helpful if you would lose your obsession with Google and actually concentrate on the FACTS.

No, I am not a lobbyist, I do not work for a lobbyist, and the firm I do work for has not taken a position on this issue.

ISP's and wireless providers have, in fact, censored the Internet.

Comcast blocked Vuze and that stupid World of Warcraft game when they blocked BitTorrent. Just to point out - Vuze is in fact in competition with Comcast. Vuze was one of the groups that complained to the FCC.

Madison River blocked Vonage in 2005 - another application that the ISP was in competition with.

The Canadian site contained threats in blog comments. No one I've seen, other than you, claims they were death threats - not even Telus's press release on the subject, which I tend to doubt would leave out such a justification. Further, they did not block "a site" with issues - they blocked only one site - of the union they were wrangling with, that the union was using to discuss strategy during a strike.

AT&T, acting as a content provider, deleted words from a WebCast of Pearl Jam in 2007 (comments about Bush.)

Verizon Wireless refused to allow a political group to send text messages on a sensitive subject on its wireless mobile network.

Net neutrality is not "ginned up by lobbyists." It's a major concern of many IT professionals, with a recent point/counterpoint with Barbara van Schewick and David Farber, in the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. Which, BTW, is the source I used for the examples above.

I don't care about Google. Don't know how many ways to tell you - I am impressed by van Schewick's arguments, Laurence Lessig's arguments, etc. Google doesn't impress me as an advocate or a boogeyman.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | September 30, 2009 7:38 PM

VirginiaGal2, I'm glad that you find Barbara van Schewick and Larry Lessig to be impressive. But remember: they're lawyers, and a lawyer's job is to represent a paying client. And the center where both of them worked at Stanford (Lessig has now departed, and -- no surprise! -- says much less about "network neutrality" now) is very richly endowed by Google and supports Google on a number of key issues (it is also very much in favor of liberalizing copyright laws in ways that would benefit Google). So, yes, corporate money has a very large role to play here. It's paying the lawyers' salaries, and they are lobbying for it. So, indeed, when you quote Barbara van Shewick you are indeed being a lobbyist for Google.

In your message above, you also seem to confuse reasonable network management with "censorship." Stopping abuse of the network (which is what BitTorrent does; it is explicitly designed to seize priority over other traffic, degrading the network for others) is not censorship of content. Rather, it is preventing behaviors which will degrade or harm the network.

Posted by: squirma | September 30, 2009 10:09 PM

VirginiaGal2: Rather than reposting them, I'll refer readers to my postings which debunk the above under the article at

Posted by: squirma | September 30, 2009 10:15 PM

squirma, Barbara van Schewick is also a PhD in computer science, a professor at Stanford law school, co-director of an institute, and a professor the engineering school. She isn't exactly an ambulance-chaser trolling for clients.

Lessig is currently involved in other projects, largely having to do with politics, but has very publicly and vocally indicated he still supports network neutrality.

van Schewick is a truly impressive expert, and was chosen by the ACM (which is generally agreed to be a serious, major professional group) as the best person to represent that viewpoint. ACM does not choose corporate shills for those roles.

Your concept that, when I quote an expert in the field - an expert chosen by a top organization in my field as an expert - an expert that I agree with, I am then lobbying for your favorite hobbyhorse, is a truly remarkable example of illogic.

Sorry, but you need to lose your birther mania for Google. I'm seeing Jon Stewart comedy bits again every time you go on about that.

BitTorrent is apparently not considered "abuse of the network" by most ISPs, given that Comcast no longer blocks it, no other ISPs are publicly admitting blocking it, and if you are blocking it for your ISP, we'd all love to hear it.

Reasonable net management is one thing. Blocking a service entirely is another. Blocking a service that is used legally (as BitTorrent is for some software distros, for World of Warcraft, and for Vuze) is not reasonable net management - and Comcast admitted it is not necessary for good net management.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | September 30, 2009 10:59 PM

Unfortunately, Ms. Van Shewick is heavily conflicted. Her salary is paid, and her job and career hinge, on funding from Google. And, as with all lawyers, she represents her employer.

Oh, and Lessig -- now that he is no longer being paid by Google -- has recently stated that he does not support "network neutrality" regulation or legislation.

In any event, noting that Google is funding the lobbying for "network neutrality" legislation is not "birther-mania." It's simply pointing out the truth. Google is spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying for this regulation -- and big corporations, as you know, don't do anything out of the goodness of their hearts. They act to maximize profits and kill competition.

As for P2P: it is, indeed, abuse of the network, and virtually every ISP prohibits it either implicitly or explicitly. And this is reasonable, because it hogs bandwidth and destroys quality of service on the network. Remember the old "Laurel Lane" commercial ( That's what happens when the neighbor's kid starts using P2P -- unless the ISP manages bandwidth. If your ISP doesn't throttle back the P2Pers, they will throttle you.

--Brett Glass, LARIAT

Posted by: squirma | October 1, 2009 1:02 AM

Brett, Lessig debunked the false claims he does not support the new net neutrality rules. See "FCC plan for open internet 'perfect,' Lessig says; industry critical", September 21, 2009,

Quote from article, "It was perfect. I'm thrilled," Lawrence Lessig, the prominent Stanford law professor and pro-net neutrality advocate, told DailyFinance after the plan was unveiled. "The commission is clearly focused on creating a policy that supports innovation on the internet." ... The proposed rules represent a major victory for consumer groups and internet companies, as well as the fulfillment of a key campaign promise by President Obama."

I didn't originally read his position there - I read it on an IT industry web site, where he was furiously debunking rumors. But this one will do.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 1, 2009 7:26 AM

Brett, your entire argument is "Google says this, Google is evil, if Google says it it must be evil." That's not an argument, it's an ad hominem attack.

van Schewick is a professor, paid by STANFORD, not by Google. Stanford does indeed get donations from Google - and I'm sure from Microsoft, and Intel, and hundreds of other high tech and low tech companies and tens of thousands of alums rich and poor.

Professors are arguably the people with the LEAST need to tailor their beliefs and public positions arguments one way or the other - that's the nice thing about working in academia. They don't hire and fire you based on your political takes.

Remember how hard it was to get rid of the professor that said we deserved 9/11? He didn't get fired for being a jerk - he got fired b/c they found academic irregularities. They couldn't fire him for the most egregious political statements.

Google has spent an estimated 1.83 million on lobbying for this - not "hundreds of millions." You're off by two orders of magnitude.

Also pushing net neutrality are Microsoft, Intel, the ACLU, the AARP, Consumers Union, the Association of Resarch Librarians, and a plethora of other technology and consumer groups. I look forward to hearing how evil all of them are, too.

Comcast does not prohibit P2P - in fact, they explicitly permit it and they have explicitly stated that their new, better method of managing their net does not block P2P.

Quote "Does Comcast block peer-to-peer ("P2P") traffic or applications like BitTorrent, Gnutella, or others? ... No. Comcast does not block P2P traffic or applications like BitTorrent, Gnutella, or others as part of its current network congestion management technique."

In fact, World of Warcraft uses P2P to distribute updates by default. Vuze video distribution (legal videos, not illegal copies) uses P2P.

I'm afraid it isn't, by default, abuse of the network. Comcast definitely does not block it, and says they don't need to do so to insure good network performance. Maybe you should ask them how.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 1, 2009 7:47 AM

One last rather obvious point - Lessig did not work for Google. He worked for STANFORD LAW SCHOOL.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 1, 2009 7:54 AM

No, "VirginiaGal2," I'm not arguing (and have never argued) that "network neutrality" regulation is bad simply because Google is for it. However, it helps folks to know that "network neutrality" is actually a corporate agenda and would advance the interests of certain corporations while harming consumers. The fact that Internet monopolist Google is paying hundreds of millions of dollars to lobbying groups in DC -- many of them, such as Free Press, groups that claim to be "public interest" groups but are really "astroturf" groups -- should give one pause. The involvement of predatory monopolist Microsoft is also another bellweather.

As for Lessig and van Schewick: in academia, empires are built on corporate contributions. (Pretty much anyone can have a building named after him or her if that person is willing to give a big gift to the University. The University of Wyoming, embarrassingly, even named an "international center" after Dick Cheney because he gave it millions -- even though he irreparably harmed our country's international relations.)

Lessig built his empire at Stanford by doing the bidding of Google and obtaining money from it to build his "Internet center." Van Schewick is currently doing the same. Yes, the paychecks say "Stanford," but the money comes from Google, and the people who work there know it.

As for P2P: Comcast does not block it (though it really should) because of a recent order from the FCC. (Even though the order was illegal and will almost certainly be overturned, Comcast decided to abide by it for the moment while it was challenging it in court.) But it is, most certainly, abuse of the network -- and in fact is still contrary to Comcast's terms of service. Comcast is merely letting this violation slide for the moment.

As for your other comments about P2P: Vuze has actually quit using it. Blizzard Entertainment, which runs Worlds of Warcraft, still does use BitTorrent for updates, but it's possible to obtain the updates without abusing the network -- in other words, without P2P.

I treated all of this in my testimony at Stanford University (where, in fact, I rebutted Larry Lessig). See

Interestingly, the reporting of Cecilia Kang -- who operates this blog and reports for the Washington Post -- is very much biased in favor of "network neutrality." Ms. Kang, when she reported on the event, engaged in a bit of creative censorship herself, utterly failing to mention my testimony while doing a gushing article on Ben Scott of Free Press. (It's good that the Post's editorial page is less biased than Ms. Kang's reporting.)

In any event, if Google isn't paying you to lobby for it in this space, it should be. You're parroting every falsehood that Google has propounded in its propaganda campaign to regulate the Internet.

--Brett Glass

Posted by: squirma | October 1, 2009 12:55 PM

Brett, net neutrality is not a corporate agenda. The consumer advocacy groups are for it - pretty uniformly. Civil liberty groups are for it - pretty uniformly. Academic groups are for it - pretty uniformly. Content providers of all sorts are for it - pretty uniformly.

Who's against it? The ISPs, who simultaneously claim they're doing it already, but they'll be destroyed if they have to do it.

Who supports net neutrality? Here's a small but representative sample - I know there are a lot more, but I got so sick of your "this is google's idea" horse hockey that I wanted to post a few rebuttals.

The ACLU - for it. Consumers Union - for it. AARP - for it. Educause - for it. (If you don't know what Educause is, I can explain it to you.) Electronic Freedom Foundation (which includes your idol, David Farber) - for it. Association of Research Libraries - for it. Consumer Federation of America - for it. Common Cause - for it. American Library Association - for it. Association for Community Networking - for it. Center for Creative Voices in Media - for it. Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project - for it. Community Technology Centers - for it. Consumer Action - for it. Consumer Project on Technology - for it. Democracy in Action - for it. Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press - for it.

Corporations? Intel - for it. Microsoft - for it. Amazon - for it. Ebay - for it. Disney - for it. Electronic Retailing Association - for it.

As far as van Schewick goes, you are wandering into territory that IMHO is coming perilously close to libel.

To point out the obvious, van Schewick was chosen, as an expert, by the Association for Computing Machinery - an organization that is simply loaded with PhD's in computer science and electrical engineering - an organization that is arguably the most respected professional group in our field.

I trust ACM to evaluate a person's credibility and expertise a lot. You, not so much.

As for P2P, it is not, and it was never, contrary to Comcast's terms of service - per Comcast's own words. Look it up.

I am not a fan of P2P, but facts are facts. Other ISPs tested by the EFF do not block it - they manage via user utilization rather than blocking.

And, again, you're back on the Google hobbyhorse.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 1, 2009 8:01 PM

VirginiaGal2, the so-called "consumer groups" which are lobbying for "network neutrality" are all heavily funded by Google, and thus hew to its agenda. On the other hand, if a consumer group publicizes abuses by Google, it can get very nasty indeed; see

for just one example.

A few other groups have latched onto Google's agenda because they were credulous or partisan.

As for Barbara Van Shewick: she does not appear to be an expert on anything except how to spread destructive falsehoods on behalf of her corporate sponsor. I'd gladly debate her on the issues and expose her intellectual dishonesty.

Posted by: squirma | October 2, 2009 9:12 PM

Squirma, you can't seriously be claiming that the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumers Union (the non-profit that publishes Consumer Reports), AARP, Common Cause (founded by a Republican in 1970 for transparency in government and public policy), Educause (the professional group for IT pros in higher ed, arguably the most important networking group for higher ed IT folks), et al were all secretly founded by Google?

Some of them were founded half a century or more before Google existed, and probably before Google's founders were born. Many of their boards are simply loaded with high tech rock stars - who aren't easily impressed, and have their own tens and hundreds of millions to throw around.

Their support has to do with freedom of expression and freedom of thought.

As for van Schewick, I'll note again - the Association for Computing Machinery, perhaps THE most prestigious computer science professional group, chose her as an expert on the topic, and asked her to present her side in the group's magazine.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 5, 2009 10:24 PM

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