The Washington Post

Democrats push for open Internet, cybersecurity

Democrats late Sunday reiterated support for open Internet policies that protect free speech and consumer choice, stronger cybersecurity laws and the protection of movies and songs from online copyright violations.

The goals were outlined in the party’s platform on the eve of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week. The tech policy is largely a continuation of promises made by President Obama during his 2008 campaign and initiatives launched during his administration.

The party touted the administration’s push for more wireless spectrum to be converted into commercial mobile networks. It promised a public safety network — a long elusive goal first set after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Yet the most controversial goals were described in vague terms. And it’s unclear how Democrats would like to proceed if current net neutrality rules are knocked out by the courts.

“President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy,” the party wrote in its platform.

The Federal Communications Commission is fighting a court appeal to overturn “net neutrality rules” that would force carriers to restrain the slowing or blocking of Web content on their networks.

Verizon Wireless is among the companies suing the FCC over its regulations, introduced in late 2009, and the court decision could determine the agency’s ability to regulate any aspect of the broadband Internet industry in the U.S.

The administration also got tangled in a fight between Hollywood and Internet firms over the proposed legislation aimed to protect intellectual property that could have arguably shut down Web sites and hindered free speech.

Democrats appeared to walk a fine line of a contentious debate expected to spill into the next administration over online copyright protection. And in its platform, Democrats didn’t mention the massive battle online against the Stop Online Piracy Act, that would have held Web sites liable for any infringing content on their sites. The hot-button words “movies” and “piracy” didn’t appear in the text of the platform.

“The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property – our technology and creativity – at home and abroad through better enforcement and innovative approaches such as voluntary efforts by all parties to minimize infringement while supporting the free flow of information,” Democrats said.

“As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans.”

Democrats were more pointed about cybersecurity, and the president’s support for cybersecurity laws that would protect businesses and consumers against attacks.

“Going forward the president will continue to take executive action to strengthen and update our cyber defenses,” Democrats said.


GOP adopts Open Internet plank

With SOPA gone, setting Internet advocacy’s next goals

FCC broadband report finds many gaps

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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