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Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Official: FCC Will Fight for Net Neutrality
By Astrid Galvan
Journal Staff Writer
It is the Federal Communications Commission's job to enforce net neutrality, Commissioner Michael Copps told hundreds of New Mexicans at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Tuesday, and the agency will fight to do so.
Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the Internet should be treated equally, and that Internet service providers cannot discriminate between different types of content, according to Save the Internet.com, a coalition that helped organize the event.
"The Internet was born on openness, it flourished on openness and it depends on openness for its continued success," Copps said.
The town hall meeting, which organizers said drew more than 400 people, was live-streamed on savetheinternet.com, formed by a coalition that contends that cable and telephone companies want to act as "gatekeepers," deciding which sites load quickly and which don't, and imposing taxes. It was aimed at minority groups like Latinos and Native Americans.
Copps said the FCC will continue to fight to enforce net neutrality. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in spring ruled the FCC does not have authority to censure cable companies that interfere with Internet traffic.
Copps' speech was met with cheers and a standing ovation.
Loris Taylor, executive director of Native Public Media, said net neutrality "is essentially the First Amendment of the Internet."
"It is not about a plan for the government to take over the Internet," Taylor said. "Now is the time to come together to ensure that free speech on the Internet is still protected."
Proponents of net neutrality say keeping the Internet free helps make it accessible. They cited a study that shows New Mexico ranks 47th in the country in broadband access, with more than half of New Mexico households lacking a connection.
The meeting included a public comment section.
Brent Herrera said he went to the meeting to learn more about net neutrality and thanked Copps for explaining it. A Cuba, N.M., native, he said he now lives in Albuquerque and uses the Internet every day to stay in touch with his family.
Mayte Lopez, a senior at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, said she uses the Internet on daily basis for school assignments and to communicate with teachers.
"It is very important to me in my studies. I cannot stress how important open Internet is for students," Lopez said.