Keep information superhighway open to all

Do you ever stop to think before flipping on a light switch, turning on your water faucet or making a phone call? No. And here’s why: Decades ago, we decided as a society that everyone would be better off – that the common good would be best served – by ensuring that everyone had equal, affordable access to basic utilities.

We believe the same thinking must apply to the Internet. It has become the backbone of the world. Much as the lone strand of a phone wire connected once-distant towns at the turn of the last century, the Internet now connects all of us around the globe in ways we could never have envisioned just 30 years ago.

The Federal Communications Commission earlier this year introduced a draft proposal giving Internet service providers the ability to segregate access to the Internet for those able to pay vast sums of cash, effectively ending its status as a “net neutral” public utility.

The outcry in recent weeks has been raucous as net-neutrality advocates have fought back, aided by a long list of tech companies, such as Google, which worry that any segregation of access could hamper further technical innovation.

We think their fight is a good one.

In an article in published May 12, Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine Advocacy, a nonprofit tech policy group, said “Young, high-tech firms have represented all net new job growth in this country for the last 30 years. … It is these startups that drive our economic prosperity, create jobs and improve our lives. Yet these companies stand to suffer the most when faced with uncertain, discriminatory rules that threaten the open Internet.”

We agree. This week, the FCC is expected to make another draft available for the public to review and comment on.

We hope that with enough noise-making, the telecom regulator will move quickly to ensure the Internet remains open, that access remains equal and affordable and that none of us ever will have to think before we hit that “on” switch.

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