Every Major Senate Democratic Challenger Announces Support for Network Neutrality

by: Matt Stoller

Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 12:07

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For the last few months, we've been posting Democratic Senate challenger positions on net neutrality here at OpenLeft.  Since we started posting, we've been getting in statements and positions, from blogs like Cotton Mouth and the Political Base, from the candidates themselves, and from readers who took the time to ask and send in statements.  I'm happy to report that every single Democratic challenger with more than $500k in cash on hand has announced their support for net neutrality.  This is a milestone for the fight for internet freedom.  I included statements reacting to this news from Senator Byron Dorgan, Speaker Pelosi, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Google public policy director Alan Davidson, and Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu.  

One thing you'll notice is that there is basically no organized telecom or cable money going to any of these candidates, with the exception of Al Franken, Mark Warner, and Mark Udall.  Franken and Warner both had careers with cable or telecom companies, so they have friends in those industries, and Udall is a sitting House member.

Democratic Senate candidates (non-incumbent), campaign contributions from Cable/Telecom PACs, expressed positions on net neturality and candidate contacts:

Candidate State Contributions from
Allen ME $2500 Favors
Begich AK $0 Favors
Franken MN $62,650 Favors
Hagan NC $0 Favors
Kleeb NE $0 Favors
LaRocco ID $4,600 Favors
Lunsford KY $0 Favors
Merkley OR $0 Favors
Musgrove MS (B) $0 Favors
Noriega TX $0 Favors
Rice OK $0 Favors
Shaheen NH $0 Favors
Slattery KS $2,800 Favors
Udall CO $54,450 Favors
Udall NM $0 Favors
Warner VA $45,050 Favors

Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School and co-author of Who Controls the Internet?  "Net neutrality is slowly becoming one of those political sacraments.  It's not like Social Security yet, but it's getting there.  The basic principle of a fair and open internet is the kind of thing you'd have to hate apple pie to be against."

Alan Davidson, the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google:, ""Keeping the Internet free and open is something that policymakers on both the left and the right should support, and we hope to see the ranks of net neutrality supporters increase in Washington next year.  The Internet's neutral design has enabled it to become a powerful engine for innovation, and America's continued economic growth depends on it remaining open."

Adam Green, Moveon.org: "This important moment shows the power of citizen driven advocacy," said Adam Green of Moveon.org. "A guy on his blog just preempted the work of millions of dollars of telecom lobbyists. OpenLeft deserves a lot of credit for leveraging its voice during this election season and getting these candidates on the record. "

Josh Silver, Free Press Action Fund Executive Director : "Net Neutrality is an issue that every member of Congress should champion.  We applaud Open Left for holding our leaders accountable for protecting the open Internet."

Jonathan Adelstein, FCC Commissioner :  "It's inspiring to see that the movement for internet freedom is tapping the same American spirit that fueled the movement against media consolidation.  Working together, we can make sure that the internet remains open and neutral - of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Since its inception, the internet has been characterized by its openness - its freedom - its equality.  Without net neutrality, America's small businesses and entrepreneurs could be left in the slow lane with inferior internet service, unable to compete with the big corporations that can pay internet providers toll charges to be in the fast lane.  Bloggers could be silenced by skyrocketing costs to post and share video and audio clips. Net neutrality will prevent those toll lanes, allowing the innovative tradition of the internet to continue and flourish by enacting protections that ensure all consumers are able to access any content they wish with the same broadband speed and performance.  The people opposed to net neutrality are not the entrepreneurs, the thinkers, the innovators who brought us to where we are technologically - they are the people who did not innovate in the first place.  We must continue this fight."

Patric Verrone, Writer's Guild of America, West: "Net neutrality is a critical fight for writers and others working in the entertainment industry.  We must not forget the lessons that old media systems have taught us, in which global media conglomerates have created barriers to entry into the marketplace and taken ownership and creative control of the TV shows and movies we create.

The Internet is a great equalizer in this struggle.  Evidenced most recently by Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible web series, a burgeoning market for original, online content is emerging, and members of the WGAW are poised to create the next generation of entertainment content for the world, free from the gatekeepers that have come to control broadcast television and cable.

We at the WGAW have been educating our members about "Internet freedom" and have been pressing upon all political leaders the reasons why we must protect the next generation of media production. But net neutrality affects more than just writers.  It affects the entire American public.  Preserving Internet freedom allows consumers to access the entertainment, information, and news of their choosing.  We are pleased that candidates are lining up to support net neutrality and we look forward to working with all elected leaders to preserve a free and open Internet.

In a world filled with oxymorons like jumbo shrimp and Hollywood accounting, we are proud to be part of the "fight for neutrality."

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:  "A free and open Internet is a necessary part of our society.  It enhances creativity, innovation, democracy, education, commerce and every other aspect of what we do.  We hope that Congress next year will agree and will return to consumers the rights they once had to a communications network unfettered by private interests acting in their own behalf, instead of on behalf of the public."

Thania St. John, League of Hollywood Women Writers and Member, Writers Guild of America, West: "We are enthused that Democratic Senatorial candidates are lining up to support Internet freedom.  The principle of an open and democratic Internet is as American a principle as we have.

The goal of the League of Hollywood Women Writers is to educate candidates and elected officials about the critical media issues facing writers and other creative talent working today.  We have prioritized meeting with Senatorial candidates to discuss these key areas as we feel that a free Internet is important to every American, not just those of us in the entertainment industry.  We are helping to fundraise for candidates that share our views and hope to meet with those who would like to hear more.

Maintaining the Internet as a free and open marketplace of ideas and information benefits us all.  It also affords true content producers the ability to create and distribute creative product, while maintaining ownership and creative control over their work.  This is something the 'old media' system simply does not allow.  We can not allow the future flow of ideas and information to be owned and operated by a handful of conglomerates as it is today in traditional broadcasting.  This affects every aspect of our lives, from politics to advertising to education to entertainment.

We must take a stand now and we implore all elected officials and the FCC to make this a priority until we ensure Internet freedom."

Statements from candidates are below.

Matt Stoller :: Every Major Senate Democratic Challenger Announces Support for Network Neutrality
Official Statement from Scott Kleeb (NE):
"I know firsthand the critical role an open internet plays in our modern democratic process. An open internet encourages the kind of innovation and free speech that fueled the rise of our information economy. We must preserve that level playing field in order to ensure that every American, and our rural communities especially, have access to what has quickly become an indispensable tool for everyday life.

The internet is to the 21st century what electricity was to my grandparents in rural Nebraska in the 1940s and 1950s. It is critical that we support policies that further expand opportunities rather than eliminate access. "Net neutrality" is an important component of our American tradition of information exchange."

Official statement from Jeff Merkley (OR):

"In this age of the Internet, as information is becoming increasingly valuable, we cannot allow major telecommunications corporations to dictate the rules for access.  If the cable and phone companies had their way, they'd set up a tiered system that allowed them to discriminate against competitors and charge more for different types of information.

I support Net Neutrality.  We need to preserve open Internet access for citizens, schools, and small businesses.  Innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world have built an amazing communication network over the last decade.  We can't let a few corporations impose artificial barriers to this wealth of information.

I've followed the work of Senator Ron Wyden on this issue and I agree with him that we need to keep the Internet free of discriminatory fees. When I'm elected to the Senate I will work to protect an open Internet for all Americans."

Official Statement from Rick Noriega (TX):

"Net Neutrality is critical component of maintaining American entrepreneurship, free speech and democracy. Texans and Americans are increasingly reliant on the Internet and it is important that we have a level playing field where each citizen has equal access to information."

Official statement from Andrew Rice (OK):

When I am U.S. Senator, I will support legislation similar to the Freedom Preservation Act, which aims to keep the Internet open and free for everyone, not just subscribers to large cable and phone companies.  I am like millions of American who rely upon an open Internet on a daily basis.  I will work to preserve broadband access for the general public so that all users have equal access to high speed Internet and are not dependent on commercial gatekeepers.

Official statement from Al Franken (MN):

Al strongly supports net neutrality (it's one of the many subjects he discussed on his radio show), and will vote to protect it in the Senate.  He believes that it's essential to preserving the free flow of information and keeping this last great marketplace of ideas open.  We can't allow that to be tainted by telecomm companies that think they can make a few bucks restricting or encouraging access to certain content.

Official statement from Mark Udall (CO):

Congressman Udall believes telecommunications laws must support a competitive market that provides the most options to consumers at an affordable price.  He also wants to protect the freedom of the Internet by ensuring network neutrality.  In fact, he has voted to ensure that Internet providers do not block or degrade legal content on the Internet.  In 2006, Congress considered reforms to telecommunications law that contained much needed updates to the last major reform in 1996.  Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) proposed an amendment to that legislation in support of net neutrality.  Congressman Udall voted for the Markey amendment but, unfortunately, it was not adopted.  The underlying legislation, which Congressman Udall voted for with some reservations, passed the House but was stymied in the Senate.  Congressman Udall continues to support network neutrality.

Official statement from Tom Udall (NM):

"Although I supported passage of the COPE Act, that does not discount my belief that the principles of network neutrality should be passed into law. In fact, Reps. Inslee and Boucher -- original cosponsors of the net neutrality amendment -- also voted in favor of the COPE Act's final passage.

You may be interested to know that several pieces of legislation, which I support, have been introduced and narrowly focus on network neutrality. These pieces of legislation have been referred to various committees, where they are being considered. This issue is far from dead, and rest assured that I will continue to keep you informed as the fight for network neutrality continues in Congress."

Official statement from Jeanne Shaheen (NH):

"I support net neutrality and its promise of equal access to the information that is so vital to our lives on the internet.

The internet's role in our daily lives has grown exponentially in the last dozen years. It has created opportunities that we could not even imagine before:  children,  in their homes and classrooms, can study the universe as if they were visiting in a NASA telescope,  families can read about medical advances as if they are sitting in the best medical libraries, and  small businesses can find suppliers and buyers across the country and compete with larger corporations.  

On the internet we choose what we read, unmediated by the preferences of governments or businesses. I support our equal access to this information and will continue to do so when I am in the US Senate representing the people of New Hampshire."

Official statement from Ronnie Musgrove (MS)

"In such a short time, the internet has developed into a key tool for our free society. It has driven economic development, enabled innovation, stimulated political discussion and provided new forums for the exercise of our First Amendment right of free speech. Net Neutrality is vital to keeping the internet free and open, and protecting access to its information for all Mississippians and Americans."

Official statement from Kay Hagan (NC)

"I support net neutrality because it speaks to the values central to our American Democracy - free speech and equal opportunity. With an open internet we can ensure communities throughout the state of North Carolina and the nation receive equal access to the internet as well as the information contained there, to help ensure our country can compete on a global level."

Official statement from Mark Begich (Alaska)

"Net Neutrality has allowed the Internet to drive economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. I will protect and preserve net neutrality's level playing field, so that all Alaskans -- and all Americans -- can experience the vast social and economic benefits of an open Internet connection."

"Discriminatory pricing would turn the open internet into a toll road that serves only those companies that can afford the price. Access to the internet is no longer a luxury; it's a lifeline for many Alaskans."

"I will work to see that Congress adopts public policies that will protect net neutrality, preserve an open Internet and spur the growth of Alaska's economy."

Official statement from Mark Warner (VA):

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Wow--great work (0.00 / 0)
A major accomplishment. The movement is the medium, and it is fantastic to see the movement moving forward.

Truly impressive (4.00 / 1)
Calling it critically important seems inadequate. A thanks from all of us.

Carter in WY? (4.00 / 1)
Nick Carter didn't meet the $500,000 cutoff since that is a lot of money in Wyoming. But he is now advertising on this page (and presumably elsewhere) so maybe he ought to be considered a credible candidate and asked about his stance too.

I'd like to congratulate Matt Stoller ... (0.00 / 0)
... and others in the blogosphere for really pushing this issue.  With no disrespect to the Senate candidates, but I think when they saw how organized bloggers are on this issue they knew they did not want to get on our bad side.

We need to run more campaigns like this ... putting our candidates on record supporting/opposing various pieces of legislation to get results.

I will believe it when they are in the Senate and major votes (0.00 / 0)
 happen on this issue. Promises are easy.

Net Neutrality (0.00 / 0)
Ironically as I behold the tempest, this net neutrality debate, I am trying not to intone FDR when he said,"repitition does not transform a lie into truth" as I sift through the valid arguments and pandering hyperbole from some of the aforementioned members of Congress.  For I am finding that if you take away the nefarious theoretical, the "imagine," and the could one may reach the conclusion that net neutrality is no more than a pricing debate cloaked in the guise of an inalienable civil right.
And although I no more wish to be sequestered in kinship with Lou Dobbs than take to the hills with Che I cannot shake my admittedly parochial, middle class suspicion that the question as to whom shall provide and whom shall pay is being distorted by curious entities and individuals who parse their collective beliefs in all that is open and organic with a real time disdain for the individual free grazer, gamer, charity nimby, and digital rube.  Am I to take heart that the aforementioned list of Senators did not fill their coffers with telco or cable dollars?  Did they take any from Google?  Am I to be buoyed by Speaker Pelosi's social construct and platitudes as she presides over a body that will not risk one vote or ear mark to check a wildly unpopular president or end a pointless war that is killing significant numbers of the Apple generation?  But perhaps worse is the passionate blur of discrimination and priority, discrimination normally being a hateful condition that was battled by far more unselfish, strong willed individuals and priority a rather benign word which brings to mind a delivery choice like priority mail (which you have to pay more for).  
As I understand it we are already paying for tiered broadband.  For all downloads are not created equal when one can choose as their preferred medium FTTP, cable, DSL, 3G, Wi-Max, BPL, or even dial up(again, at various prices depending on speed).  
Without rhetoric or malice please set to me to rights.  Until then I will wait for the one man revolution, when it is not profit, popularity, or ego but the better angels of our nature that will bring discipline and responsibility, traits inseperable from the net and democracy, to this discourse.            

Campaign for Telecoms to take Net Neutrality pledge (0.00 / 0)
I am part of a new campaign to switch to the first Telecom to take the Net Neutrality Pledge. It is a new type of campaign because people can join the campaign without switching but once the first Telecom takes the Pledge (as long as they provide service in your area) then all the members will switch. If you're interested check it out here: http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/first-telecom-to-take-the-net-neutrality-pledge-wins-our-business

Thanks and let's spread the word about keeping an open internet.


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