The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jenn Ettinger, Media Coordinator, 202-681-6843

In Minnesota, Hundreds Urge FCC to Take Swift Action to Protect Open Internet

Franken, Copps, Clyburn Hear Strong Public Support for Net Neutrality


was standing room only at South High in Minneapolis on Thursday night,
as more than 750 people turned out to show their support for Network
Neutrality and free speech online. FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and
Mignon Clyburn listened to hours of impassioned public testimony about
the future of the Internet.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and Secretary of State Mark
Ritchie were also on hand to speak at the public hearing organized by
Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and Main Street Project. Over a
thousand more people watched the hearing online, thanks to Minnesota
citizen journalists The Uptake.
Franken, who called Net Neutrality the "First Amendment
issue of our time" in a recent speech, urged the FCC to protect Internet
users and prevent discrimination online.

"We can't let companies write the rules that we the people
are supposed to follow," Franken said. "If that happens, those rules
will be written only to protect corporations. I urge the FCC to oppose
any efforts to undermine Net Neutrality and to impede the flow of
information online."
Franken also made a strong call for the FCC to oppose the
proposed Comcast-NBC merger, citing the negative evidence of the impact
of media consolidation on the marketplace of ideas.

Copps called on his colleagues at the FCC to take steps to
restore the agency's authority to regulate broadband and protect
Internet users. He also weighed in on the controversial Internet policy
proposals recently put forward by Google and Verizon.

"I suppose you can't blame companies for seeking to protect
their own interests," he said. "But you can blame policy-makers if we
let them get away with it. Deal-making between big Internet players is
not policy-making for the common good. Special interests are not the
public interest. Stockholders are not the only stakeholders. I will not
settle -- you should not settle -- for gatekeepers of the Internet
striking deals that exchange Internet freedom for bloated profits on
their quarterly reports to Wall Street."

Commissioner Clyburn emphasized the importance of expanding
broadband infrastructure and called the open Internet "the great
equalizer." "It has been said that the Internet has as democratizing
effect as the printing press," she said. "It enables under represented
groups, including minorities and women, to have an opportunity to be

Amalia Deloney, grassroots policy director with the Center
for Media Justice, reminded the audience that even as the Internet has
become a vital tool for every day life, millions still lack access. "We
are here because the future of the Internet is in jeopardy," Deloney
said. "More and more, U.S. residents are going online to conduct
day-to-day activities like paying bills, going to school, searching for
jobs, or researching health care. We need Chairman Genachowski to
re-establish the FCC's authority over the communications system of the
21st century."

While debates over technology policy are often held behind
closed doors or riddled with jargon, the huge turnout and energetic
crowd in Minneapolis demonstrated deep public concern over where the
Internet is headed.

"The number of people in the audience tonight, and watching
online reminds us all that the debate over the future of the Internet is
not just for techies, bloggers or geeks," said Free Press president
Josh Silver. "It is about nothing less than the future of all
communications and democracy itself. As Internet speeds increase,
television, radio, phone service, and technologies we never dreamed of
will be delivered by a high speed Internet connection. As goes the
Internet goes journalism, education, entertainment, community
engagement, innovation and our economy."

The hearing can be viewed in its entirety on the Web at

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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