Net Neutrality Proponents Claim Victory, Prepare For Next Battle - InformationWeek

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12/11/2006
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Net Neutrality Proponents Claim Victory, Prepare For Next Battle

Congress failed to act on COPE Act before the session ended Saturday, but proponents and opponents will gear up for a renewed fight next year.

A bill that would have allowed telecommunications and cable companies to prioritize Internet content by allowing higher-speed information delivery for higher-paying customers, has died.

The 109th Congress closed early Saturday morning without action on the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006. A broad coalition that has been arguing for federal laws to protect the Internet as a level playing field instead of a two-tiered system, celebrated a victory.

The group, Save The Internet, is also gearing up to continue lobbying for network neutrality when the 110th Congress convenes. Proponents of legislation supporting "net neutrality" said Friday that they anticipate support from a Democratic majority, but heavy lobbying on behalf of telecommunications companies.

COPE would have allowed the Federal Communications Commission to decide whether companies were giving equal treatment to data on the Internet.

Technology leaders, bloggers and others used the Internet to spread the word that equal access and free speech on the Internet were threatened. The campaign for net neutrality spread quickly through videos, blogs and other media. Save The Internet claims that it has attracted more than 800 supporting coalition groups and that 1.3 million people signed its petition in favor of net neutrality.

Hands Off The Internet, a coalition that argues that net neutrality is a misnomer, said critics of COPE were trying to impose burdensome government restrictions. The coalition, which includes telecommunications companies, argues that competition, not regulation, should promote a democratic Internet.

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