THE BLOG

Last Night's Primaries & Net Neutrality

05/19/2010 02:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

For those who love the Internet, who want it to remain a general-purpose technology and open tool for democratic participation, last night was a good night.

Net neutrality is a proposed FCC rule that would keep phone and cable companies from interfering with websites and technologies on the Internet. Obama campaigned on the issue (using his strong support to help differentiate him from Clinton's campaign), as did sixteen Senate candidates in 2008, and many prominent governors, Congressmen, etc. have voiced support.

Last night, two big supporters of net neutrality won their primaries.

Joe Sestak, who defeated Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary, is strongly pro net neutrality. In 2006, when he ran for Congress, he wrote a post on MyDD called "Why I Support Net Neutrality." He said: "I've looked at the facts, weighed the evidence, and I strongly believe that Net Neutrality is good for America." In that post, he advocated for net neutrality primarily for our economy and our small businesses, and was also using the Internet to galvanize political participation (and raise money, directly from average individuals).

So is Jack Conway, who won the Democratic primary in Kentucky for US Senate. In this clip, he explains that he was troubled by the DC Circuit case reversing the FCC's network neutrality order against Comcast, and discusses the political potential of the open Internet.

That was just my quick take... If there are other pro-net neutrality candidates who won last night, let me know in comments.

So a big day for network neutrality.

UPDATE:
For what it's worth, I see some of the paid consultants for the phone and cable industry have posted comments. They include a guy named Mike Turk who used to run the big cable lobby's astroturf or "grassroots" operations, if I understand his HuffPo bio correctly. Oh, and I see Tim Karr has written about Turk in his HuffPo Shill Watch.

Let me take two questions.
1. He asks:
"Why don't you look at how many Republicans that oppose net neutrality also won?"

Turk may have a point: some anti-net-neutrality Republican candidates may have won. I encourage him to list their names in the comments.

2. Turk also downplays the threat of net neutrality, including pointing out that a court reversed the FCC action against Comcast. If the carriers didn't want to engage in net neutrality violations, they wouldn't be spending hundreds of millions of dollars--including on people like Turk--to fight net neutrality rules. And the Comcast violation cannot be swept aside easily: the largest ISP was blocking popular, underlying Internet technologies for years, and only announced it would stop long after the FCC began holding hearings on the issue, and did not actually stop blocking until months after the FCC adopted its order. FCC action was central to stopping that violation.