Tonight at 7pm EST, we will be joined by Ben Scott of Free Press (www.freepress.net) who will address issues of net neutrality and open networks, as well as Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (www.epic.org) to address issues of electronic information collection.
Hello again, I'm Dick Durbin. For those of you who participated in last night's live blogging, thank you so much for the excellent comments.
I think we started off this experiment in online bill drafting with a very successful evening. It was helpful to hear your ideas about municipal broadband, data sharing, open access and the mix of incentives that would help build networks. These thoughts will undoubtedly help me draft legislation that addresses these policy issues.
As for tonight's discussion, I'd like to focus on what we should do to ensure that we can fully take advantage of the power of the internet - how to ensure that it continues to drive innovation and a diversity of views.
One hot topic you've surely heard about is net neutrality - the principle that all content, regardless of its source or its destination, should be treated equally. Very few people are in the middle of the road on this issue: to many advocates, it is the bedrock of today's Internet. They argue that this principle was the law of the land until the FCC recently stopped enforcing this provision. Others, like the Hands Off the Internet Coalition, consider net neutrality a policy that would stifle innovation and slow the build out of networks.
In my opinion, the Internet as it works today, has been tremendously beneficial as a tool for commerce, public discourse, and education and health. Part of the Internet's success derives from the concept of open access that all participants and all information is treated the same. Only fairly recently have these rules begun to change.
I believe that those who want to change how the Internet functions have the heaviest burden of proof to meet. The onus rests on those who want us to allow the internet to migrate away from an open access network. And, this is where I'd like to kick our argument off tonight. How do you feel about this question of access and content?
Of course, this isn't the only issue related to how we use the internet: many are concerned that so much of their personal information is available online, collected by companies to make it easier to segment and sell audiences to advertisers. Should there be limits to the information that can be collected about us online?
Let's get this discussion started. I'd like to hear your thoughts.