Mr. BOUCHER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for yielding this time to me.
The Internet is a platform for innovation unequaled in American history. It has enabled the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and has driven the growth and the technology industry, which in turn has driven the growth of the American economy.
But innovation on the Internet is now at risk. The openness and accessibility that have defined the Internet experience are now threatened. Broadband providers are planning a two-lane Internet with a fast lane for their content and for the content of those who pay, and a slow lane for everyone else. Start-ups cannot afford the fast lane fees, and in the slow lane they cannot succeed. Innovation is at risk.
The Markey amendment which I am pleased to cosponsor will keep the Internet open. It will keep the toll booths from being erected. It is essential to the promotion of the American economy. This is the most important debate that we are having on this bill. There are those who will say that we have the time to wait; we should simply see how this works out. Make a determination 5 or 8 or 10 years down the road about how the two-lane Internet is faring. And if innovation is threatened, if problems
arise, then we can always come back and make corrections.
My message tonight is that we will have one opportunity to act, and it is tonight. History shows us that once a business model goes into effect and revenues are being derived from that business, jobs depend on that business, stock valuations depend on that business, and it is virtually impossible for Congress under those circumstances to take that business model away. And so tonight is the night.
The Markey amendment is the amendment. It will preserve the openness and accessibility of the Internet. It will keep it a platform for innovation for the 21st century, and I urge its adoption.
Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, I live by an adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. No Internet service provider ought to be able to block access to your favorite Web sites or Internet applications, and I have to say that there are protections in this bill which preserve those rights. There is no evidence of any problem. And if they surface, we have some protections in here.
Let me read what they are. This bill, Barton-Rush bill, ensures that consumers are entitled to: one, access the lawful Internet content of their choice; two, run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement; three, connect their choice of legal devices that do no harm to the network; and, four, competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
We give the FCC the explicit authority to enforce those principles, in fact, a fine for up to half a million dollars for every violation. We have a 90-day time clock to make sure that they are adjudicated properly and in a timely fashion.
The Internet has a great history of developing free of taxation and regulation. We want to keep it that way, and that is why we should vote ``no'' on this amendment.
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman, the Internet, the World Wide Web truly are the most magnificent intellectual achievements since the invention of the printing press. And tonight the U.S. Congress, if it does not do its job, will severely let down that marvelous achievement of the human intellect because today, at least until last August, engrained in the DNA of the Internet was a principle of nondiscrimination and freedom among all sources of information on the Internet.
Unless we pass the Markey amendment and preserve net neutrality, that basic DNA is going to be subject to mutation, to discrimination.
We have a simple proposition in the Markey amendment, and that is just as all men are created equal, all bits are created equal and we must treat all bits of information fairly, accurately, and without discrimination.
If this amendment does not pass, we will for the first time, for the first time allow the infection of discrimination to discriminate amongst bits of information. I note this because the opponents of this amendment, the Markey amendment, are saying we have to get these entities that use these services to pay. No doubt. And under the marketing ability, you will be able to charge for the distribution of bits. But what we should not allow is to discriminate amongst those who in fact enter the on-ramp
of the Internet information superhighway.
We will continue to allow people to charge depending on how many bits you send through the pipe. But what we should never allow, and until last August, we have not allowed, is the discrimination about who is sending those bits across this information super highway.
Preserve the basic DNA of the Internet. Pass the Markey amendment and preserve freedom of access of information.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished member of the subcommittee and full committee, the gentlewoman from Nashville, Tennessee, Congresswoman Blackburn.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the Markey amendment.
This afternoon I went to the computer and I pulled up Google and then I pulled up Yahoo and in my search engines I put ``network neutrality.'' Interesting what I found.
Well, I found article after article that I certainly believe has their facts wrong, because network neutrality is a term that people can't agree on. Everybody has got a different definition.
Now, while that bothered me, Mr. Chairman, I believe that it is important that we do a couple of things. One of those is I don't think the government ought to tell Google and Yahoo how to rank or present their information. That is not a road that we want to go down. But that is what the Markey amendment would do. It would force companies that build and maintain the networks where the data flows to present and categorize data in packets according to a government standard. Once we have done that,
Mr. Chairman, the next thing is going to be having a Secretary of Internet access. I don't believe that is somewhere we want to go.
The COPE bill says that individuals should be able to connect any device to the Internet and access legal content.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman of the full committee hailing from the great Alamo City, birthplace of Texas democracy, Mr. Gonzalez.
Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman, and my colleagues, this is a good amendment. If you want to improve the bill, and I suspect the Bells don't want you to, and they may not even permit you to. But the hard fact of the matter is this preserves network neutrality.
The bill, as it now constitutes, says that the FCC shall do certain things. But it denies them specifically the authority to write rules under which uniform treatment will be afforded to all persons. It imposes, or permits the imposition of huge fines. But the fines will never be imposed.
What network neutrality does, it sees that everybody is treated alike with regard to use of the Internet. That has been a principle which has been applied to the Internet and Internet use since it was first originated.
This legislation permits the Bells to begin to disregard that, to pick and choose whom they will serve, to determine the conditions under which they will afford service, and to create a situation where there will be no rights and no capacity for the user of the Internet or the companies which provide Internet service to see to it that they can protect their rights.
The Markey amendment, which is before us, gives us some assurance that the FCC will be able to do some of the things that it should do to see to it that we preserve the Internet as we have known it, to protect the users, to protect the companies which provide this service, to protect the libraries, the schools, the individuals and the universities.
I urge adoption of the amendment.
Mr. FERGUSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the Markey amendment. This amendment is essentially a solution in search of a problem. When we considered this bill in both the subcommittee and in the full committee, we asked experts to identify one example of a problem that this amendment would solve. They couldn't point to one example where a Bell-operated company or a cable company had blocked access to their networks or infringed on so-called Internet freedom.
Further, when we asked these experts to define net neutrality, these same experts couldn't even agree on a definition for this term or even provide a description that was less than confusing.
I am concerned that this amendment will give the FCC the authority to impose old network common carriage requirements on new networks.
Since the advent of the Internet, Congress's hands off policy has allowed the World Wide Web to prosper by having the market pick winners and losers, rather than the government.
The Markey amendment takes us in the opposite direction. It forsakes the free market in favor of government price controls. This amendment would chill investment in broadband network and deployment of new broadband services, and, at the end of the day, very simply, it would reduce choice for our constituents. The Internet has prospered very well without this type of heavy-handed interference.
This amendment is not about network neutrality, it is about network neutering, and this amendment should be defeated.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to another member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the pride of the entire State of Nebraska, Mr. Lee Terry.
Mr. TERRY. Mr. Chairman, the interesting irony about this is that the bill, as written, does not regulate or tamper or mess with anything on the Internet. The amendment that we are discussing here is the regulation of the Internet. And I agree with the Speaker beforehand. There is not an issue today on prioritization along the network or through the pipelines.
I look at it like, this amendment, if it was brought up 100 years ago, would have froze the Pony Express into that permanent state. But yet, we all know that later on developed first class mail, airplane, FedEx, UPS and a variety of different ways to deliver to the consumer. I say, let's wait until there is a discriminatory process that is put in place, that is anti-consumer and trying [Page: H3579]
to guess that something that, we don't know what, may happen in the
future. Let's not regulate the Internet today. Let's defeat this amendment.
Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself the balance of the time.
This debate is a travesty. We are allowed 10 minutes to explain this fundamental change in the whole history of the Internet. It is pretty much a joke.
If two consumers go into a car dealership and one wants to buy a Ferrari and another decides to buy a Ford Taurus, that is their choice. The Ferrari is expensive and has all sorts of bells and whistles. But once those two customers drive the Ferrari and the Taurus off the lot, the car dealership shouldn't be allowed to tell them where they can and cannot drive. We don't have certain roads or destinations just for Ferraris or just for Taurus drivers, and the auto dealership certainly shouldn't
be permitted to put up new toll booths to extract fees on those highways. That limits freedom. That is what the Republicans and the Bell companies are doing tonight.
If you like the way the Internet is today, vote for the Markey amendment. If you don't want new broadband taxes, fees imposed upon the Internet, vote for the Markey amendment. If you agree with the National Religious Broadcasters, with the Gun Owners Association, Common Cause, the Christian Coalition, and the ACLU, you vote for the Markey amendment tonight. Because if you don't, there is going to be a fundamental change in the whole history of the Internet. You can't put together a coalition
like that unless something fundamental is happening in America. It goes to voices, all of these organizations who feel it is going to be limited, and choices, the choices that consumers are going to have and the choices that entrepreneurs are going to have in getting onto this information highway without having to pay special
fee or tax to the telephone companies or cable companies. Vote ``aye'' for the Markey amendment. Preserve network neutrality, preserve the Internet as we know it today. There is nothing wrong with it, and you won't hear a word from the Republicans or from the telephone companies making a case that there is anything wrong.