Sen. Patrick Leahy: The Internet Needs its Own ‘Bill of Rights’

In an editorial published in The Huffington Post today, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) put pressure on the FCC to keep Internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to certain websites. In his editorial Leahy said that the Internet needs its own rules to protect liberties much like the Bill of Rights.

"Like our country, which is protected by a Bill of Rights that guarantees our basic freedoms, the Internet needs concrete, fundamental protections to ensure that it is not abused by those with the power to do so," Leahy said in an op-ed published in the Huffington Post Tuesday.

He goes on to say that Net neutrality protections "are the Bill of Rights for the online world."

"We should not allow an Internet that is divided into 'haves' and 'have-nots,' where those who can afford to pay drown out the voices of those who cannot," he added.

Leahy's Senate committee will hold a hearing on net neutrality today. In his opinion piece Leahy also highlighted a bill he introduced last month with Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) that would keep Internet providers from charging websites and online services for better access to consumers.

"Pay-to-play arrangements would distort the open ecosystem that makes the Internet the unparalleled platform it is today," Leahy said.

Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to rewrite the rules of the Open Internet Order, including one option that could allow Internet providers to charge websites for better access to users. While the plan saw plenty of backlash from Democrats on Capitol Hill (including Leahy), it was approved by the FCC members, with final approval to come after the public comment period ends.

"The outcome of this debate will have a profound effect on small businesses, community voices, and consumers," Leahy wrote, adding that strong net neutrality rules to keep the Internet "free and open" are of paramount importance.

"Our actions in the United States send a message to other nations around the world," he said. "Let us stand for an open Internet where all may have their voices heard."

Source: The Hill

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