The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing this week on new legislation proposed by Democrats that would reinstate net neutrality protections previously dismantled by the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Save the Internet Act, as the legislation is called, would regulate providers’ ability to price access to the internet.
Cornell University engineering professor Stephen Wicker is an expert in internet and wireless communication, including concerns about privacy and speech. Wicker says that the proposed legislation is important for fostering innovation and protecting small companies.
“The Save the Internet Act is a vitally important move toward recovering the original promise of the ‘information superhighway.’ It shows that Congress is responding to the concerns of its constituents.
“FCC chairman Ajit Pai has been an outspoken critic of net neutrality, claiming that net neutrality stifles innovation. By innovation, he appears to means the creation of new markets for media giants through predatory pricing schemes. He fails to consider the loss of innovation that will occur through the potential strangulation of small startups. His inability to take the matter seriously is reflected in his recent choice to film an anti-neutrality diatribe while wearing a Santa Claus outfit.
“Net neutrality is neither a joke nor a game. The threat of internet censorship is very real. In a 2012 brief to the FCC, a major internet service provider likened itself to a newspaper editor, an editor that may exercise ‘editorial discretion in selecting which speech to transmit and how to do it.’
“In an era of ever-increasing media consolidation, net neutrality has never been more important. It is a matter of free speech – the speech of small new companies that want to enjoy the same level playing field as that originally given to Google and Facebook.”