Two of Oregon’s most powerful politicians have spoken out in favor and against recent federal action to begin repealing online net neutrality regulations established during the Obama administration.
Net neutrality describes open access to the internet, requiring service providers to offer free and equal access to online material. The Federal Communications Commission moved Tuesday to begin repealing the restrictions, which could enable big internet carriers to charge extra for online services such as Netflix.
Republican Rep. Greg Walden hailed the action, saying the commission showed it understands the importance of making the internet flourish “under a light-touch regulatory regime,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Walden serves as the chairman for the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has oversight authority for online communication.
Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, however, decried the commission’s ruling as a giveaway to big telecom companies.
“Consumers, rural Americans, small businesses and pretty much everyone except Big Cable executives will lose out thanks to this terrible proposal,” said Wyden, who has long been among the most vocal advocates of net neutrality and led a campaign last summer to pressure the commission to retain regulations.
The fight over net neutrality dates to the 1990s and an unsuccessful drive by the city of Portland to require internet service providers to open local networks to competitors. The courts blocked
Portland’s initiative, setting the state for a larger administrative and legislative debate over internet regulation.
Portland has largely retreated from the front lines of the open internet fight, but Mayor Ted Wheeler weighed in Tuesday on Twitter, saying a “fair and open internet is crucial” to modern economy.