It might come as no surprise to the online community, but Ted Stevens is probably best known outside of Alaska for his stance on net neutrality. Needless to say, when it comes to internet freedom, there is an ocean of difference between Ted Stevens and his opponent (and my boss) Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Today Mark put out a very strong statement in support of keeping the internet free and open.
"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."
Net neutrality is only one area where Stevens has put telecom companies' special interests ahead of Alaskan families. Two years ago Stevens sought to make VOIP providers like Skype pay hand over fist for their service. More recently Stevens has been a vociferous advocate for giving telecom companies that helped the Bush administration spy on Americans without warrant retroactive immunity from prosecution. That issue remains pending, but sadly Stevens is not interested in protecting the rights and privacy of ordinary Alaskans when his special interest pals come calling for different treatment.
Mark Begich is offering something completely different. I'm glad that Mark recognizes the important role that net neutrality has played in the development of economic growth nationwide, not to mention in connecting rural Alaskan communities to the rest of the world. The internet is a communications tool that has helped bring the global economy, education, and even medical resources into parts of Alaska that are benefiting greatly as a result.
Even my decision to move to Alaska and work for Mark Begich's Senate campaign was made possible by the internet. I first saw and spoke with Mark on a Skype video conference call. There's no doubt that if Ted Stevens and his special interest buddies had their way and the internet was a toll-road of tiered service, Skype might never have been developed and Mark and I might never had that opportunity to talk to each other about our shared visions for the future of our country.
The fight to save the internet continues and will continue in the 111th Congress. Electing Mark Begich to represent the people of Alaska in the U.S. Senate will mean having one more vote to the side of freedom. Mark and I can greatly use your help and we'd greatly appreciate it if you supported our campaign for honest leadership and bold change for Alaskan families today. You can make a donation at Begich.com or through ActBlue.
Disclosure: I work as Mark Begich's Online Communications Director. You can learn more about our campaign for honest leadership in Alaska at Begich.com.