Diverse Groups Urge Rules Committee to Permit Net Neutrality Amendment

Expressing the views of more than 1 million Americans, 35 groups, including Common Cause, Free Press, Consumers Union, the American Library Association and the Christian Coalition, formally asked the House Rules Committee to permit House members to vote on amendments to preserve a free and open Internet. The Rules Committee meets today to consider amendments to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE). The House is expected to vote on the COPE bill as early as this Friday.

The letter, delivered late Tuesday to Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) and Committee members, as well as to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Ranking Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), specifically asks the Committee to permit a floor vote on amendments to protect “net neutrality” – the right of any individual to access any information and use any lawful application on the Internet, without the interference of their Internet Service Provider. Strong net neutrality language, added to the COPE Act, offers “the best opportunity to protect innovation and growth on the Internet,” the letter states.

Noting that net neutrality has the “bipartisan support of leaders in the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees,” the letter states that the COPE bill in its current form fails to preserve a free and open Internet. Absent strong net neutrality language, the House will end up passing major telecommunications legislation that will fail to guarantee “consumers’ right to the online content of their choice,” a right that will be denied them “for the first time in the history of the Internet.”

“The COPE Act’s current net neutrality provisions are inadequate to safeguard the Internet, deliberately impede clear enforcement mechanisms, and leave the network operators free to discriminate against consumers and producers on the Internet,” the letter charges.

The letter urges the Committee to permit “meaningful net neutrality protections” to be considered as an amendment to the COPE bill, “so that the Internet can continue to be an engine for economic growth and democratic discourse.”

The 35 groups that signed the letter belong to the SaveTheInternet coalition, comprised of more than 700 groups. Later this week, the coalition will be delivering petitions signed by more than one million Americans asking Congress for strong net neutrality protections.

Click here to read the text of the letter:http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=686043&ct=2541743