Free Press Responds: No Kumbaya on K Street


In response to a Jan. 12 guest blog from Art+Lab’s Mark McKinnon and Mike McCurry calling on media reform groups Free Press and Public Knowledge to “promote peace” on net neutrality policy, Free Press Communications Director Liz Rose provided the following rejoinder.

Free Press is a proud of the role we play in protecting the public interest. But if McCurry and McKinnon want to call us “bitter enders,” let’s be clear about a few of the “out of step” ideas we stand for: We want more competition to spur investment.  We want consumers not to be taken advantage of by companies.  We want Net Neutrality rules without huge loopholes. And we want Americans, no matter where they live, to be able to get high-quality broadband services without having to mortgage their houses to pay for it.

Thanks to their benefactors at the big phone and cable companies, neither McCurry nor McKinnon have to worry about their mortgage payments. So they can paint us as unreasonable, but the truth is the companies they represent are the ones who have been fighting reasonable rules for decades.

These same companies fought to dismantle “open access” rules; they lobbied to undermine the pro-competition policies enshrined in the 1996 Telecom Act; they pressured Congress to kill off Net Neutrality just a couple of years ago; and when some of them got caught blocking Internet traffic–they lied about it. So you’ll excuse us if we’re a bit skeptical when they want to us to come over to K Street, join hands, and sing Kumbaya.

AT&T and the other providers McCurry and McKinnon represent say they want peace, but what they really want are loopholes. What they want is a standard that says they can discriminate for virtually any reason. Free Press supports reasonable network management.  We are not opposed to allowing network operators to limit traffic when they can show it is not unnecessarily harmful. We are not, however, ready to trust AT&T and Comcast just because they say so.

Broadband policies that sound pretty but would be impossible to enforce are not good enough for us.  We seek common ground, but we won’t compromise on protecting consumers, competition and innovation. We stand ready to make peace, but we cannot and will not give up on the public to do so.