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Al Franken say’s Net Neutrality protects your rights, so protect it

Al Franken say’s Net Neutrality protects your rights, so protect it with all our effort.All this dates back in may,when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a proposal that would return broadband to its previous classification and wipe away the existing rules. Net neutrality massive supporters, including Franken, say that doing this would give broadband and wireless companies too much control over the internet and would kill innovation.Just yesterday, the protest rolled out and it was massive.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

CNET talked to Franken on Wednesday about the online protest and what’s next in the fight to keep the internet free and open.

Who is Al Franken

Alan Stuart Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American writer, comedian, and politician. He is currently the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He became well known in the 1970s and 1980s as a writer and performer on the television comedy show Saturday Night Live. After decades as a comedic actor and writer, he became a prominent liberal political activist.Franken is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), an affiliate of the Democratic Party.

CNET Interview with Al Franken

Q1: I know you shared videos and participated in discussions as part of the online protest to protect the net neutrality rules. Are you happy with the level of participation in the “Day of Action” protest?

Franken: Yes. I talked to Ed Markey [a senator from Massachusetts] and he said we’re up to more than 6.5 million comments in total to the FCC. That certainly breaks the record of 4 million comments filed to the FCC a couple of years ago, which made so much of an impact on the 2015 rules. So that’s a good number. I think that will hopefully have an effect on the FCC, but also on the courts. And since this issue may end up there again, that’s important.

Q2: Do you think the outpouring of public support for the rules will change FCC Chairman Pai’s mind?

Franken: Knowing him, I’m very skeptical about whether anything would change his mind. He was dead-set on this when he testified to me for the Senate Judiciary Committee. But I’m still optimistic here. Not about changing his mind, but others’.

Q3: Do you think you can change the other Republican on the FCC, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s mind?

Franken: Hopefully.

Q4: There are two other FCC commissioner nominees who should be confirmed in the next few months: Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who had been on the commission in 2015 when the rules were passed. She voted in favor of them. And Brendan Carr, a Republican currently serving as the chief counsel to the FCC staff.  So you hope the more than 6 million comments on the proposal to roll back the rules will influence the votes of these commissioners?

Franken: That’s right.

Q5: But O’Rielly has been opposed to any rules and it seems unlikely that Carr, once confirmed, would break ranks. So let’s just assume that none of the Republicans on the FCC will cross party lines to vote against this proposal to dismantle the rules. What’s next?

Franken: Then it’s back in the courts.

Q6: Is that really an ideal solution to have this issue bouncing back and forth between the FCC and the courts every time an administration changes in the White House? The big broadband companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast say they want Congress to step in. And even Facebook, which said it supports the current rules, is also urging Congress to take action. Do you think new legislation is needed?

Franken: I don’t think new legislation is needed. The regulation that is in place right now works, and I think that the court will uphold it if the FCC overturns it.

Q7: If the Republicans were to come to you and ask for help in drafting bipartisan legislation, would you be willing to work with them on it?

Franken: It depends on what they’re talking about. If they’re talking about something that fundamentally undermines net neutrality, the answer is no. But if they’re talking about something that puts strong net neutrality protections into law, then sure.  It would depend on what they come up with.

Q8: Sen. Thune [a Republican from South Dakota] offered a proposal in 2015 that he claims would have outlawed blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of legal content over broadband and wireless networks. He has said his plan would have ensured broadband companies couldn’t use their power to manipulate the internet experience, while at the same time making sure the government couldn’t overregulate. Would legislation like that be acceptable?

Franken: His proposal was too weak. It was not a real attempt to keep an open internet.

Q9: Some critics of Thune’s draft bill say it would have gutted the authority of the FCC. Is it important to make sure that the FCC still has the authority to enforce rules?

Franken: I think it is important that the FCC has that responsibility. But honestly, I think any legislation that we would get in the current Congress would be weaker than the Open Internet order that’s in effect now. This principle of keeping the internet open is so important. The internet is really basic to the First Amendment. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the FCC or Congress that provides those protections. It just needs to be protected.

Q10: So what can Congress do? Should lawmakers be pressuring the FCC to keep the existing rules in place?

Franken: We have a lot of members of Congress who have been champions of this regulation and who feel strongly about it.  There are a few Republicans who are knowledgeable about it, too, and who feel strongly about the issue.

Q11: Do you think this is going to be an issue that comes up in the 2018 midterm elections?

Franken: It might be because I think that generally younger voters tend to know this issue and tend to understand its importance more than their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents, for that matter.

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