Commentary

Howard Dean Warns Against Two-Tier Internet

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who famously used the Internet to rally support for his 2004 presidential campaign, warned today that the Federal Communications Commissions' proposed broadband regulations could  squelch political debate.

“If you proceed with a two tier Internet, it could result in political bloggers, news outlets, and even organizations like Democracy for America being silenced because the powers that be don't like our message -- or because we can't pay their sky-high rates,” he said in comments submitted to the FCC today.

Dean also made a video of his comments, which is available at Democracy for America -- an advocacy group he founded in 2004. “Protesters in Egypt, Iran, and Ukraine used a free and open Internet to challenge oppressive regimes in the name of freedom,” Dean says. “They did not have to pay extra to use the bandwidth that carried the messages and videos that changed the world.”

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Dean's remarks come in response to the FCC's decision to explore a proposal that would allow ISPs to forge “commercially reasonable” paid prioritization deals with content companies. Those kinds of deals would allow content companies, like Netflix, to pay to guarantee that their material is streamed to users quickly.

The proposal has spurred criticism from numerous groups, including digital rights advocates, startups and investors. They argue that pay-for-play deals will disadvantage small organizations that can't afford to pay for guaranteed fast-lane delivery.

Dean and other critics of the FCC's proposal say that the agency should reclassify broadband as a “Title II” telecommunications service, which would subject providers to the same common carrier rules that require telephone companies to put through all calls.

“If you allow big telecoms to charge extra for carrying content, you will create a fast lane for those who can pay extra, and risk slower speeds for those who can’t,” he says.

2 comments about "Howard Dean Warns Against Two-Tier Internet".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, July 8, 2014 at 5:43 p.m.

    Interesting this came from Howard Dean. Isn't it our democratic president who told the news reporters they could not even ask a question or take a picture of the illegal kids or the employees at Lackland Air Force base in Texas? It seems Dean supports a two-tiered system of the press. One for bad news that would make his political beliefs look bad and the other for everyone else.

  2. Ted Mcconnell from Independent Consultant, July 9, 2014 at 12:17 a.m.

    A self serving posture from a politician? Shocked.

    Back to reality: Bandwidth is a commodity. It always has been. When someone who needs it buys it, that's ye olde invisible hand at work. To imagine that the Arab Spring or the like would not happen because Americans want flawless viewing of Orange is the New Black (ultimately at their expense, I might add, since Netflix gets its money from those same people) is a huge leap. People may get twitter messages one second later than otherwise if all the americans are watching the World Cup, but so what? Remember, the same show uses the same bandwidth regardless, it just get it a little quicker if Netflix gets priority. If the government (or the people) want a fair internet they should indeed regulate it, as they do all other common facilities like roads and utilities. If they want it to be dominated by commercial interests, by all means let "Market Forces" control who gets what. Perhaps cord cutters will become a political force. Than what?

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