Coalition Sounds Off on Net Neutrality Legislation

Activist groups are speaking out against a Congressional bill that they say endangers Net neutrality.

Vint Cerf, so-called "father" of the Internet, is among the big names and organizations that have come together to create the Coalition, which hosted a national conference call today.

Other members of the Coalition include Gun Owners of America,, Public Knowledge,, the American Library Association,, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union, and Free Press.

Todays conference call is one of the coalitions many campaign tactics to emphasize the importance of "Net neutrality," the concept of a free and open Internet.

"The fight for Internet freedom is now being waged in earnest," said Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press. "On one side you have the public and on the other side the nations largest phone and cable companies looking to strip the Net of neutrality."

The "fight" that Karr refers to, and the purpose of the Campaign, is to address what equates to a Congressional re-write of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, in a bid to update it to include Internet-related activities.

"The last decade of Internet revolution has been marked by innovation, which was the consequence of the open and neutral access that the Internet has afforded until now," said Cerf, who serves as the chief Internet evangelist at Google, during the conference call. "Proposals coming from telcos and the cable companies, as exemplified in some of their legislation, destroys that neutrality."

The updated bill, dubbed "Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancements Act of 2006" is sponsored by Representative and House Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), Representative and Chairman of Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Representative Charles Pickering (R-Miss.), and Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). The bill is focused on video-franchise reform and was first introduced to Congress in late March 2006.

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