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ICYMI- Net neutrality protection stressed by S.F., Seattle mayors

San Francisco Chronicle
Net neutrality protection stressed by S.F., Seattle mayors
Posted: 6/19/2014 18:33

A free and open Internet has become an integral part of our society. Every day, millions of Americans log on to their computers, smartphones and tablets and engage in an online world that connects communities, empowers citizens and facilitates progress.

As mayors of diverse American cities, we have seen the awesome power of this tool firsthand. Our residents – different creeds, colors and socioeconomic backgrounds – rely on the Internet for communication, business, entertainment, civic engagement and even public safety.

In doing so, they are able to pull up their hometown newspaper or neighborhood blog with the same speed and quality as the busiest of commercial websites. They can receive the latest local alerts as easily as an e-mail blast sent to thousands of users. A local small-business Web page downloads just as rapidly as that of a nationwide chain.

A free Web also serves as the entrepreneurial laboratory for hundreds of new startups that are driving a new piston in America’s economic engine – one creating new jobs and sharpening the country’s competitive edge.

Net neutrality makes all of this possible.

But now Internet freedom and transparency is in danger from a new kind of discrimination – where big gets priority over little; where the establishment dominates and the newcomer doesn’t stand a chance.

We need to stop this – now.

Since the seeds of it were planted at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency decades ago, the Internet has thrived because of its openness and equality of access. It has spurred great innovation, while providing a level playing field for its users. It allows everyone the same chance to interact, to participate, to compete.
Today, however, we are at a critical juncture, as the Federal Communications Commission works to craft new rules as to how the Internet will be regulated. We stand for transparency and believe that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment or mode of communication. We feel that innovation relies on a free and open Internet, one that does not allow for individual arrangements for priority treatment, also known as paid prioritization.

And so this weekend – during the U.S. Conference of Mayors 82nd Annual Meeting in Dallas – we will present our colleagues with a resolution calling on the FCC to fulfill its existing congressional mandate and to issue rules that preserve free and open communications channels for all.

We hope our fellow mayors will join us in this effort to preserve net neutrality. Doing so is critical to our nation’s prosperity and the future success of American cities.

Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco. Ed Murray is the mayor of Seattle.


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