FCC Commissioner Michael Copps took his support for network neutrality and his criticism of U.S. broadband service to Russia last week, according to a just-released copy of his May 12 speech to People’s Friendship University in Moscow.
“The Internet must never be about powerful gatekeepers and walled gardens,” he told his audience. “Users need to be free to go to any legal content of their choice, using the applications and devices they choose,” he said, “so long as they don’t harm the network.”
Carrying the torch for network neutrality abroad is in keeping with Obama foreign policy. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted the freedom to connect online as one of the new basic freedoms, standing alongside the “Four Freedoms” extolled by the Roosevelt administration during World War II ( the freedoms of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear).
But Copps also leveled criticism at the U.S. broadband effort, saying that for much of the past 10 years, consumers in his own country had been paying too much for broadband service that was often too slow and, “in too many places,” not available at all. But he said that had now changed with the launch of the FCC’s national broadband plan, which Copps has been calling for for most of that same decade.