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House Dems Meeting to Oppose Verizon on Net Neutrality Challenge

Some House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats and
staffers are meeting Wednesday afternoon to talk about what they call the
"troubling" First Amendment argument being made by Verizon in its
lawsuit challenging the FCC's Open Internet Order.

They are troubled by Verizon's assertion that it has the
First Amendment right to decide what goes over their networks. If the court
agreed, they argue, it would undermine Congress' ability to enact
communications policy. 

The briefing, entitled "Should Telecom Companies Edit
the Internet?," was being promoted in a "dear colleague" letter (see below) by Energy and Commerce
ranking member Henry Waxman (Calif.), ranking Communications Subcommittee member
Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Michael Doyle (Pa.), and Doris Matsui

Among the speakers at the briefing will be former FCC
Chairman Reed Hundt, who joined an amicus brief in the suit backing the FCC and
taking issue with the First Amendment argument).

Itis the second "dear colleague" letter from Waxman, Markey and
Eshoo taking aim at the argument ().

"Verizon has been a longtime advocate for an open
Internet, and is the only Internet Service Provider that voluntarily adopted
such policies," a Verizon spokesman told B&C/Multi when that first letter was being circulated.
"Our filing makes clear that we remain concerned that the FCC's sweeping
assertion in this case exceeds its statutory authority and constitutional

The letter follows.

Dear Colleague:

We want to make sure
that you and your staff are aware of the below invitation for a briefing
scheduled for this Wednesday, November 28 at 3:30pm. This briefing will examine
a troubling First Amendment argument being advanced as part of a case filed by
Verizon to overturn the Open Internet Order adopted by the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) in 2010.

Despite widespread
support of the FCC's Open Internet Order, Verizon is arguing before the Court
of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that broadband providers have a right to decide
what they transmit online and that those business decisions are tantamount to
speech deserving First Amendment protection.

As strong believers in
the necessity of a free and open Internet, we have championed "rules of the
road" that protect consumer choice and innovation online. We worked on open
Internet legislation in previous Congresses and supported the Open Internet
Order adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2010. We were
joined by major broadband providers, technology companies, labor unions, and
civil rights groups who all supported the FCC's action.  

This briefing will
highlight the startling constitutional arguments being made in the D.C. Circuit
and how the role of Congress in enacting communications policy could be radically

We hope you or your
staff will be able to attend this event.