Sean McLaughlin from the New America Foundation and Access Humbolt alerted us to HB 1161, an AT&T and ALEC driven bill to scale back state regulation of Internet services. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-SD20, San Fernando Valley) is a co-author of the bill, introduced in February and moving steadily forward.
Sean tells us:
On Monday, the bill passed CA Assembly's Committee on Utilities and Commerce with only one brave NO vote (Asm. Huffman is also leading candidate for US House for the new CA-2 district). Next stop is Assembly Appropriations Cte. but it will quickly move to the Assembly Floor - NOW is the time to alert all Assembly Members in California to stop this juggernaut.
Access Humbolt's press release is an excellent analysis and tells us why this bill needs to be stopped:
"While the Bill strives to be self-limiting and makes hopeful assumptions about the benefits of unfettered industry, it neglects to address three profound and overarching realities:
1. In the future all telephone or voice service will be IP enabled communication service;
2. Federal oversight over IP enabled communication services including Internet access services remains highly uncertain; and,
3. Competition is not sufficient in IP enabled communication services to protect consumers, nor to ensure universal access to an open internet.
SB 1161 removes State expertise and local knowledge from public policy making that is necessary to secure universal access to an open internet. And further, this Bill will impede State and local efforts to develop broadband services for public safety, public education, public health, public works and public media. Clearly, a more thoughtful approach is needed.
If the Bill is adopted as proposed, local community investments to support broadband deployment and adoption will suffer, causing increased costs and reduced benefits from State and Federal universal service programs for remote, rural, low income and other people in our community who are least served.
By prohibiting independent oversight of the State’s expert agency, and discounting knowledge assets of local jurisdictions, SB 1161 will cause direct fiscal harm to schools, libraries, health care providers, tribal and state agencies, public safety, public works, public media and other community anchor institutions."
You can sign on to the Free Press campaign immediately. If you are a Californian and want to make a personal impact, use their district finder to find contact info for your elected officials. Be sure they know you are a constituent. Phoning is most powerful.
For an in-depth look at the legislation, check out the Communications Workers of America's position statement [pdf].