Leahy Announces Witnesses, Details For July 1 U.S. Senate Field Hearing In Vermont On Open Internet Rules

. . . Hearing will focus on the importance of an open and competitive Internet for entrepreneurs, small businesses, public services, families and students

(TUESDAY, June 24, 2014) -- Senator Patrick Leahy Tuesday officially announced that the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, will hold a field hearing in Vermont on “Preserving an Open Internet: Rules to Promote Competition and Protect Main Street Consumers.”  The hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 1, at 10 a.m. at the Davis Center on the campus of the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vt.

Leahy also announced a panel of four witnesses who will testify at the hearing.  The panel will include Michael Copps, a former Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission; Martha Reid, Vermont State Librarian; Cabot Orton, proprietor of the Vermont Country Store; and Lisa Groeneveld, co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of the South Burlington-based Logic Supply Inc.

The Judiciary Committee field hearing will focus on the need to restore open Internet rules to replace FCC rules that were struck down earlier this year by the D.C. Circuit Court, including the rule prohibiting broadband providers from blocking lawful content and the rule barring them from unreasonably discriminating against lawful Internet traffic.  The FCC currently is accepting public comments on a new set of proposed open Internet rules. 

Last week Leahy introduced legislation to require the FCC to ban so-called “paid prioritization” agreements between broadband providers and content providers, to help prevent creation of a two-tiered Internet system.  The legislation, the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, would ensure that start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, like the Vermont Country Store and Logic Supply, have ready access to the marketplace.

Leahy said, “Rural states like Vermont face particular challenges when it comes to broadband access, and we are making inroads to ensure that the Internet is available to any home that chooses to use it.  At the same time, we need to make sure that rules and regulations governing Internet access do not impose unfair tolls or restrictions on small businesses, students, employers, employees, families and public resources like our libraries.  Next Tuesday we will hear firsthand how important a free, fair, and open Internet is to states like Vermont, and all across the country.”

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