Key Senate Democrats took to the Senate floor on Wednesday evening to press the Federal Communications Commission to write tough rules that would keep the Internet free from corporate control.
A recent court decision has been widely treated in the press as a blow to Internet freedom, but it also allows the FCC to use separate authority to write broad rules.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) urged the agency to do just that. "This is a very important issue in the wake of the Circuit Court decision. I believe that [the] chairman has the capability and the ability to go forward and do the right thing and I encourage him to do that," he said.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the chairman of the Finance Committee, took the floor to thank Dorgan for his comments and ask him to expound on how it is the FCC can move forward.
"The best way to think about the decision is that it creates a challenge and presents an opportunity," said Aparna Sridhar of Free Press, a group fighting for net neutrality. Telecom companies, meanwhile, are battling for control of the Internet. Without firm rules in place, companies such as Comcast can legally block Internet users from viewing certain websites.
Around the same time, Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky stood up for net neutrality during a primary debate.
The court ruled, quite reasonably, that the Bush-era FCC had erred by regulating the Internet as "information services." The FCC, however, is now able to regulate it as a telecommunications service, which more naturally fits its character.
As Dorgan explained, no legislation is needed in order for the FCC to act. Until it does, however, there is nothing preventing Comcast or other corporations with control of broadband from determining which sites users have access to and at what speed.
Watch Dorgan and Baucus on the Senate floor: