Monday, November 19, 2007

Presidential Candidates and Net Neutrality

Musicians haven’t always been the most politically plugged-in animals, but they do fight for what they need and care about.

We hope they realize how important net neutrality is to their work -- both now and in the future.

Some Big Telecom companies want to charge providers for faster service, which would result in a "tiered" Internet. This could affect musicians, small labels and entrepreneurs who depend on equal access to the Internet to reach new listeners and engage fans and supporters. So it's important to know which presidential candidates are in favor of net neutrality. Sometimes this is trickier than it sounds.

Senator Barack Obama recently came out in full support of net neutrality, producing a June podcast outlining his commitment. In October, he claimed that if elected President, he'd appoint only net neutrality-supportive individuals to the Federal Communications Commission. We here at FMC aren't necessarily endorsing Obama, but we certainly applaud his forthrightness regarding net neutrality.

Hillary Clinton's commitment to NN is harder to gauge, at least lately. Initially, she seemed to be a net neutrality champion, co-sponsoring legislation (introduced by Senators Snowe and Dorgan) that would compel broadband providers to follow clearly outlined Internet regulations.

But since the bill was introduced two weeks before she announced her candidacy, Clinton has been surprisingly quiet about the issue. Although she has offered a nine-point technology plan, it contains no reference to net neutrality. Stanford Law Professor, internet expert and FMC Advisory Board member Larry Lessig has suggested that Clinton's silence may have something to do with her funding from large telecom corporations.

The Clinton camp counters this claim, pointing to August's YearlyKos convention, at which she promised attendees she'd "make sure that the architecture of the Internet stays open." Read more about the back-and-forth here.

Democratic contenders have been the most supportive of net neutrality, with John Edwards and Bill Richardson also chiming in on the importance of keeping the Internet clear of corporate gatekeepers.

On the Republican side, only Mike Huckabee has articulated a pro-NN position. We'd love to see more candidates -- of both party persuasions -- follow suit.

Although no single candidate may have all the answers, it's important to know which ones are actually addressing net neutrality. It may not be as "sexy" as national security or immigration, but a free and open Internet is of utmost importance to our shared digital future.

Musicians should check out FMC's ongoing Rock the Net campaign to learn more about the importance of net neutrality, and to add their voice to the call to preserve an open Internet.


Anonymous said...

Ron Paul is another Republican that supports net neutrality.

FMC said...

Thanks for the tip. Are any of his pro-NN statements online?

FMC said...

Actually, now that we look, we find that as late as September 2007, his campaign seems against NN: