Net Neutrality Becomes a Campaign Issue

Iowa’s Democratic Senate candidate urges supporters to back net neutrality.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is Democrats' top recruit for both the Senate race and the gubernatorial race in 2014. 
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Jan. 27, 2014, 10:27 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s net-neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tions, which were struck down by a fed­er­al court earli­er this month, have be­come a cam­paign is­sue in at least one com­pet­it­ive Sen­ate race.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Bruce Bra­ley, who’s run­ning for the Sen­ate in Iowa, urged sup­port­ers on Monday to sign a pe­ti­tion on his web­site sup­port­ing net neut­ral­ity.

“If the FCC doesn’t re­place these rules, the free and open In­ter­net could be a thing of the past,” Bra­ley wrote in the email.

“Con­sumers want choice and open ac­cess in the In­ter­net. They do not want huge tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions com­pan­ies con­trolling what they see.”

The FCC’s reg­u­la­tions re­quired In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders to treat all Web traffic equally. Sup­port­ers of the rules fear that In­ter­net pro­viders could start block­ing or slow­ing down sites that fail to pay spe­cial fees.

But the D.C. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals de­term­ined that the FCC lacked the au­thor­ity to ad­opt the reg­u­la­tions.

Bra­ley’s pe­ti­tion urges FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er to “take im­me­di­ate ac­tion on new rules de­signed to pro­tect net neut­ral­ity.” The email to sup­port­ers also in­cludes a link to donate to Bra­ley’s cam­paign.

Wheel­er could choose to ex­pand his agency’s reg­u­lat­ory au­thor­ity over broad­band In­ter­net in a bid to re­in­state the rules. But that move would spark a back­lash from Re­pub­lic­ans, who would ac­cuse the FCC of try­ing to takeover the In­ter­net. A fight over the FCC’s clas­si­fic­a­tion of the In­ter­net could turn the is­sue in­to a cam­paign ral­ly­ing cry for Re­pub­lic­ans.

Bra­ley is run­ning un­op­posed for the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion to suc­ceed Sen. Tom Har­kin. He will face off with the win­ner of a crowded field of Re­pub­lic­ans.

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