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Friday, 01 September 2006 06:47

Outpouring of Support for Net Neutrality Sweeps the Country

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NEWS RELEASE

News from SaveTheInternet.com:

Outpouring of Support for Net Neutrality Sweeps the Country

Local SavetheInternet.com Coalition members deliver thousands of petitions to Senate offices in 25 cities

Four new senators pledge their support for Net Neutrality, as local Internet users and small businesses stand up for Internet Freedom.

WASHINGTON -- Supporters of Internet freedom took to the pavement in 25 cities nationwide on Wednesday and Thursday, delivering thousands of SavetheInternet.com petitions to their senators and urging them to oppose attempts by big phone and cable companies to eliminate Net Neutrality.

From Buffalo to Fayetteville, Orlando to Seattle, the outpouring of public support for Net Neutrality comes as the Senate's August recess ends, and members return to Washington to consider a major overhaul of the nation's telecommunications laws. In response to the events, four senators - Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), James Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) - issued strong statements in support of Net Neutrality. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) pledged his support for Net Neutrality in August, after being questioned by a constituent at a public event.

In each location, local citizens urged their senators to place the needs of the public ahead of the interests of phone and cable lobbyists - and to oppose any legislation that lacks enforceable Net Neutrality protections. Among the highlights on Wednesday:

· New Yorkers delivered more than 50,000 petitions to Schumer's offices in New York City and Buffalo. "We are extremely pleased that both of our New York Senators are pro Net Neutrality," said Jessica Findley, a freelance graphic designer from Brooklyn, who helped organize the New York City rally. "We are proud that they represent the importance of this freedom and hope that other senators will follow their great lead."

· Sen. Mark Dayton attended the SavetheInternet.com event in the Twin Cities and announced his support for the Snowe-Dorgan pro-Net Neutrality bill. "I will work with the two Senate sponsors to enact the Net Neutrality principles of equal access to the Internet into law this year," he said.

· In Detroit, outside Sen. Debbie Stabenow's office, David Pettit of the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan told the crowd: "Powerful telephone company lobbyists will tell you one of two things - both of which, of course, are false. First, they will tell you that the Stevens bill already preserves Net Neutrality. This is completely not true. Second, they might say ‘don't regulate the Internet. Let the market decide.' ... All we want to do is reinstate the Net Neutrality principles that guarantee that the Internet treats everyone fairly."

· In Des Moines, Iowa, where TV cameras gathered to watch the petition delivery, Ben Bellus worried about what the loss of Net Neutrality could mean for his small business. "It would reduce the efficiency of our services to our clients and that is something we really don't want to do," he said. "It isn't fair." Iowans delivered petitions to Senator Harkin's office in a show of support for his recent pledge to "strongly support Net Neutrality legislation."

· In Denver, Albert Smerker, who heads a systems-integration company in Littleton, Colo., warned that his business wouldn't be able to compete if larger companies cut deals with companies like Qwest and Comcast. "We want to keep the playing field level," he said.

More petition delivery events were held at senators' offices in Baltimore; Boston; Eau Claire, Wis.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Milwaukee; Newark, N.J.; Portland, Maine; Providence, R.I.; and Seattle. Previous events were also held in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.

Events are being held on Thursday in Charleston, W.Va.; Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu; Louisville, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; Montpelier, Vt.; Orlando; Spokane, Wash.; and Wilmington, Del.

Interviews with local SavetheInternet.com Coalition petition delivery participants, including local small businesses, available upon request.

Photos and video from the events are posted at www.SavetheInternet.com and will be updated throughout the day.

The nation's largest phone and cable companies have launched an estimated $100 million lobbying and propaganda campaign to eliminate Net Neutrality -- the longstanding principle that prevents Internet service providers from discriminating against content based on its ownership or source.

The high-priced industry lobbyists have been opposed by an unprecedented grassroots alliance of small business, consumer groups, bloggers and everyday citizens concerned about the future of the Internet.

More than 750 diverse groups have come together as the SavetheInternet.com Coalition - including Free Press, MoveOn, the Christian Coalition, Gun Owners of America, U.S. PIRG, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, Consumers Union, Common Cause, Craig Newmark from Craigslist, musicians REM and Moby and others. The SavetheInternet.com coalition collected over 1 million petition signatures online in support of Net Neutrality.

The House has already passed a bill without Net Neutrality. A bill introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) -- HR 5252, which could reach the Senate floor in September -- fails to provide meaningful or enforceable Net Neutrality protections.

"Popular support for Net Neutrality is growing every day," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which coordinates the SavetheInternet.com Coalition. "Senators are heading back to Washington with a clear message from their constituents: Don't sell out the Internet. Serve the public's interest. Support Net Neutrality."

For more information - or to see photos and events from the events -- please visit www.SavetheInternet.com or click on the links at the bottom of this release.

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The SavetheInternet.com Coalition is a grassroots, nonpartisan alliance of hundreds of groups, thousands of bloggers, and more than a million concerned Americans who have joined together to protect Internet freedom and Network Neutrality. No corporation or political party funds the coalition. Statements by the SavetheInternet.com Coalition are not necessarily endorsed by every participating organization.

NEWS RELEASE
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