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Markey Pitches Open Internet on Senate Floor

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday to make a pitch for a "truly open Internet." He said that would be one that did not have fast and slow lanes, the first perhaps for kitten videos, the second for C-SPAN video of Congress streaming live, though he conceded sometimes the workings of Congress can sometimes feel a little slow.

"The vitality of [this] free platform is at stake today," he said. Markey said that if classifying Internet access under Title II is the best way to preserve that platform, "that's what the FCC should do." Markey said that the Internet has become like phone service in the last century. "We have to treat it as such."

Markey said under the FCC's first draft of new rules, it considered allowing paid prioritization, but Markey said the issue goes beyond slowing video. Without a truly open Internet, he said, "startups and small businesses would suffer," slowing job growth in his state and across the country.

He said noone should have to ask permission to innovate, or have to raise capital to pay for a fast lane. "Only those with access to deep pockets would develop anything new," he said. He likened innovators without bankrolls as on a gravel path, while others "whizzed by" on the interstate.

Markey pointed out that he introduced the first open Internet bill back in 2006 and one of the primary authors of the 1996 Act. He said the FCC has both the power and responsibility to oversee broadband networks and intervene when necessary. He signaled it was necessary to act now.

His speech came on the eve of the FCC's planned May 15 vote on new open Internet rules, which according to sources will favor using existing authority, but also make clear that Title II will be used if necessary to protect the values Markey was extolling.