Thursday, March 30, 2006

An Open Letter to Representatives Barton and Upton

I read today's article on network neutrality from Internet News, entitled "'Clear And Present Danger' For Telecom Reform Bill", with some trepidation. From all appearances, the GOP aims to side with the telcos and allow net neutrality to lapse, or at least go dormant. As I've made clear before, the risks associated with this approach are significant.

Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas, Contact) chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, while Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI, Contact) chairs the Internet Subcommittee. Together, they are helping craft a bill that would de-regulate neutrality. I called the office of Rep. Barton (202-225-2002) -- reaching a staffer -- who relayed my message. I got voicemail for Rep. Upton (202-225-3761) and left him a message in his mailbox. I would urge you to do the same.

I also wrote Barton a message on his site, which is reproduced here:

Congressman, as a staunch GOP supporter, op-ed writer, blogger, and fundraiser, I want to express my extreme disappointment in your apparent willingness to side with the telcos in the matter of network neutrality.

At risk is America's leadership role as the premier source of Internet innovation. Google, eBay, Amazon and others create value, evident through their market capitalization values. Erecting tollbooths on the Internet does the opposite - it subtracts value. And the telcos -- through their spokespersons and the hardware they plan to purchase -- clearly intend to create artificial tollbooths on the Internet to "maximize value".

How would a startup (a Digg, Vonage, Skype) compete with large companies who are able to pay prioritization tarriffs? What will prevent a telco from entering any market and blocking competitive traffic? The risks of ending network neutrality are simply too high.

The wording of prospective neutrality legislation can be clear and direct: blocking, monitoring, filtering, or impeding packets based upon type, source, or destination should be strictly forbidden.

America's national security and economic well-being hang in the balance. I -- and many other members of the GOP -- urge you to reconsider your position on network neutrality.

Best Regards,

Doug Ross

Update: Russell Shaw is following the money trail on Network Neutrality. Comcast (#1), AT&T (#4), and MCI (#6) were among last year's top ten corporate contributors to Rep. Joe Barton for a grand total of $46,000. Shaw closes by saying, "Not suggesting anything untoward here, but it might appear these companies - who never met a fee idea they didn't like, feel like they have a friend in Joe."

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