Vermonters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the future of net neutrality next month. That’s when Sen. Patrick Leahy will bring the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee to the University of Vermont for a special field hearing on this issue.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering a rule that would allow large Internet Service Providers to charge individuals and businesses for much faster access to the Internet ending a practice known as net neutrality. Leahy is leading the effort in the Senate to oppose the FCC plan.
“It should be open to everybody and that was the intent of the Internet when it began that should be the intent now,” said Leahy. “I don’t want the Internet be available only to those who can spend a whole lot of money to get their message out and not to others.”
Leahy says he’s concerned that many small businesses and groups with alternative political beliefs will be hurt by the FCC proposal.
“You have too many monopolies involved and too many are able to push out any voices they don’t want,” said Leahy. “And I think what you’re going to end up with is economic censorship if you don’t have net neutrality.”
Congressman Peter Welch also opposes the FCC proposal. Welch is concerned that the plan could seriously hurt economic developments in the rural parts of the country.
“We have to have an open Internet where we don’t have a fast lane for the folks with deep pockets and a slow lane for everyone else,” said Welch. “That’s by the way especially true in rural areas where we want to have our businesses to have access to the best Internet services available without having to get hammered on the cost because they can’t afford the fast lane.”
Welch says he’s working to put together a strong bipartisan group of House members to encourage the FCC to drop its plan to end net neutrality.