Net Neutrality In The Wake Of The Election

November 5, 2010

In the wake of Tuesday’s election results, the demise of net neutrality has been greatly exaggerated.

Here are the facts:

In May 73 Democrats signed on to a letter outlining their opposition to the FCC imposing net neutrality rules through reclassification.

In June 32 Democrats signed a letter in support of reclassification.

In late October 95 Democratic candidates signed a pledge, organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) to support net neutrality rules.

In the aftermath of Election Day, some have incorrectly read Republican gains as a rejection of net neutrality principles by the public.

These claims actually purposefully obscure the true facts about Tuesday’s results: voters supported Democratic incumbents on the record in favor of net neutrality unanimously, while rejecting more than one-third of those who oppose Internet freedom. The tale-of-the-tape is in the numbers: 27 of 73 Democrats who opposed FCC reclassification were defeated, while all 32 who signed on in support of reclassification were re-elected.

Much has been made of the fact that all 95 candidates who supported PCCC’s net neutrality pledge were defeated. The truth is that none of these candidates were incumbents seeking re-election, and most were facing GOP incumbents in a wave election year for Republicans. Any further conclusions are misguided.

Claims of victory by net neutrality opponents are wildly overblown; net neutrality was not a defining issue in this year’s congressional elections. According to exit polls, the economy and jobs were voters’ top concerns.

If Congress had actually passed net neutrality legislation, candidates spent time debating and running ads on net neutrality, and there was data to back up the claim that voters decided races on the issue, then concluding that voters sent a message might have validity. As it turns out candidates were eerily hesitant to campaign on an anti-Internet freedom, anti-growth platform of limiting access to websites, blocking content, suppressing speech, slowing service, stifling innovation, killing jobs, and retarding economic growth for the nation all for the bottom line of few companies.

The divided government and likely gridlock with these election results make it all the more likely that Congress will not take action to guarantee that the Internet remains free and open. In order to ensure that the Internet continues to be an open a place where entrepreneurs, ideas, and innovation thrive and information flows freely, it is more vital now then ever for the FCC to move quickly to set ground rules to protect the free and open Internet and the economic opportunity and prosperity that accompanies that openness.

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