Washington, DC- Representative Edward J. Markey, a Ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, made the following statement at today’s hearing on the National Cable Franchising and Net Neutrality Legislation.

“I believe the bill before this committee today has serious defects – flaws that will harm consumers and that risk condoning conduct by broadband companies that will destroy the Internet as we know it.

“In my view, rules ensuring network neutrality are indispensable.

“The Internet, as we know it, has been the backbone economic development and innovation over the past fifteen years.  Small business owners, inventors, students and the Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s of the next generation are out there using the Internet to engineer the next generation of technology.

“I understand that there are those who argue that we should rely on mere network neutrality ‘principles,’ or an imprecisely-worded FCC policy statement, rather than legally enforceable rules.   Others will advise us to take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.

“Yet, we know from public statements from several industry executives that the owners of the broadband wires into our homes would like to start charging fees to Internet content providers.  In other words, they want to artificially constrain the supply of Internet-based content and services to high-bandwidth consumers.  This represents nothing more than the imposition of a broadband bottleneck tax on electronic commerce.  Such a bottleneck tax for accessing consumers will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on investment and innovation.

“There are some out there who will inevitably ask the question, ‘But why shouldn’t Google pay?’  Google certainly has a very large market cap and presumably could afford to pay.  But that is precisely the wrong question to ask.  The question to ask is whether Larry Page and Sergey Brin could have afforded to pay circa 1998, whether Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang could have afforded to pay a broadband behemoth circa 1995, whether Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape, could have afforded to pay anyone, anything, circa 1994. 

“If there is an entrepreneur in some proverbial garage somewhere today, whose idea is new, whose product is still in ‘beta,’ their dreams are just as real and valid as Larry’s, Sergey’s, Jerry’s, and Marc’s were an Internet-generation ago.  We should be doing everything we can in public policy to ensure that this successful Internet model continues to drive innovation, economic growth, and job creation. 

“In short, this bill imperils the future of electronic commerce and innovation to the ‘world wide whims’ of broadband barons and ties the hands of the agency in a way that will legally prevent it from saving something very special.  This committee’s attack on the Internet ‘as we know it’ will come as an unpleasant shock to the millions of Americans who depend on the Internet to surf and learn and do business and invent our way into the future.”

For video and a copy of Rep. Markey’s complete testimony at today’s hearing check out: http://markey.house.gov/


March 30, 2006


CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Colin Crowell