Thursday, June 29, 2006

Senator Wyden To Block Bad Telco Bill

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has placed a "hold" on major telecommunications legislation recently approved by the Senate Commerce Committee until clear language is included in the legislation that prevents discrimination in Internet access.

Immediately following the Commerce Committee's vote against a Net Neutrality amendment, Senator Wyden marched onto the floor of the Senate to demand that the legislation include stronger safeguards against phone and cable company discrimination.

"The major telecommunications legislation reported today by the Senate Commerce Committee is badly flawed," Wyden told the Senate, according to the transcript of his speech:

"The bill makes a number of major changes in the country’s telecommunications law but there is one provision that is nothing more than a license to discriminate. Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse."

A hold signals his intent to filibuster until certain issues in the Stevens' bill are cleared up. According to the Senate's official site, a hold is:

"An informal practice by which a Senator informs his or her floor leader that he or she does not wish a particular bill or other measure to reach the floor for consideration. The Majority Leader need not follow the Senator's wishes, but is on notice that the opposing Senator may filibuster any motion to proceed to consider the measure."

Senator Stevens is uncertain that he has the 60 votes to break a filibuster. If at least 41 Senators stand strong behind Net Neutrality filibuster then Wyden's hold could keep the Telecom bill from the floor.

The legislation that passed through committee today has toothless provisions on net neutrality, and instead opens the way for companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to charge consumers and small businesses new and discriminatory fees on top of those they already charge for Internet access.

"The Internet has thrived precisely because it is neutral," Wyden said. "It has thrived because consumers, and not some giant cable or phone company, get to choose what they want to see and how quickly they get to see it. I am not going to allow a bill to go forward that is going to end surfing the web free of discrimination."

Watch the video of Wyden's speech at the Agonist. The full text of Wyden’s statement is available online at


Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! I am once again proud to be an Oregonian. Too bad our other Senator is nowhere near as clueful.

Chad Lupkes said...

I've heard he has another Senator as a supporter on this 'hold'. Who is that, and what bill or whatever can we demand that our Senators around the country sign onto?