Maine Passes First Net Neutrality Resolution

The Maine Legislature enacted the first net neutrality resolve today.  The resolution, LD 1675, recognizes the importance of "full, fair and non-discriminatory access to the Internet" and instructs the Public Advocate to study what can be done to protect the rights of Maine internet users.  

This resolution confirms what we have known along- protecting the righst of internet users is essential to keeping the internet as it was meant to be- a free and open arena of democracy. The rest of the nation should follow Maine's lead.

"Maine is the first state in the nation to stand up for its citizens' rights to a nondiscriminatory internet," said Senator Ethan Strimling, the original sponsor of LD 1675.  "The rest of the nation should follow suit and study what can be done to protect net neutrality."

"Maine is once again leading the way in protecting the rights of its citizens," said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union.  "This resolution will help re-establish the internet as the free and open arena of democracy it was always intended to be."

Advocates say that restoring net neutrality is essential to protecting the right of internet users to access the information they choose.  "Net neutrality principles are key to keeping control of the internet in the hands of the people," said Chellie Pingree.  "With this resolution, the Legislature has put the needs of Mainers before the needs of the telecomm companies."

"This important legislation puts Maine first in affirming that Internet providers should not be allowed to discriminate by speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination," said Tony Vigue of the Community Television Association of Maine.

Small business owners and members of the technology industry say net neutrality is good for Maine business because it allows small businesses to compete online with large corporations.  Having net neutrality principles in place would make Maine an attractive place to launch tech industry start-ups.  "Maine's place in the digital economy is pivotal to future economic growth," said Lance Dutson, founder of MaineCoastDesign.com.  "This resolution will allow us to see more clearly what safeguards are needed to allow Maine businesses to thrive in this new arena."

"With a free and open internet young people are able to start businesses that compete in the global marketplace from their homes in Maine," said Brian Hiatt, Maine Director of Communications and Online Organizing for The League of Young Voters.  "Net Neutrality levels the playing field for Mainers."

As a result of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality principles, which had been in place since the inception of the internet, were put in jeopardy.  Following that decision, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe proposed legislation to reinstate net neutrality at the federal level.  Maine's resolution emphasizes the importance of net neutrality to Snowe's home state and could provide the impetus for her to refocus attention on the issue.

"I am delighted at this resolution's potential for positive effect on Maine and the rest of the U.S.  I look forward to reading the Public Advocate's study on Network Neutrality," said Fletcher Kittredge, Founder and CEO of GWI, Maine's largest Internet Service Provider.  

Advocates agree that passage of the net neutrality resolution is a giant step forward.  "This is a victory for everyone who uses the Internet in Maine," said Jon Bartholomew, National Media and Democracy Organizer for Common Cause. "Every Mainer who uses the web for business, to find information or to speak their minds should thank the legislature for listening to them over the giant telecommunication firms."

Tags: Internet, Maine, mclu, net neutrality (all tags)

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