President’s Message

by Steven G. Zylstra

Arizona’s technology industry is thankful to have a leader like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema working hard in Washington to address some of the most pressing issues Arizonans … no, make that all Americans face today. This goes double for her recent announcement that she and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi together will take up the matter of net neutrality to advance a bipartisan, forward-thinking solution.

The trouble with current legislative efforts to secure net neutrality — namely, the Save the Internet Act passed by the House — is they are rooted in the past.

If the term “net neutrality” is new to you, let’s turn to Webster’s for an unbiased definition: the idea, principle or requirement that internet service providers should or must treat all internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination. In simplest terms, that means you and I get an equal shot at googling “net neutrality” and getting results without your waiting in a longer line because my provider is considered preferred.

Essentially, this legislation in its current form would try to enforce regulations written for the telephone industry in 1934 but apply them to the 21st century internet. That approach is beyond illogical. The measure would make it harder for broadband providers to invest in deploying high-speed internet networks to rural and underserved communities in Arizona.

The Save the Internet Act also would only apply to a small portion of the online ecosystem, leaving many major internet technology companies from oversight. Any law governing net neutrality must include and be equally enforceable to all parties. This is especially true now that consumers and regulators across the United States are calling into question the impartiality of their online experiences.

It’s widely understood today that many companies are using their size and influence to unfairly censor differing opinions and have frequently engaged in anti-competitive behavior. There is, quite simply, no good reason not to include them in net neutrality legislation.

That’s why the Arizona Technology Council is excited to see Sinema take on this issue and work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass truly modern legislation that will secure net neutrality, promote innovation and protect all internet users from the broad range of threats they face online.

“As innovation continues to leap forward, the dynamic and creative nature of the internet should be encouraged, not inhibited, by regulations,” Sinema and Wicker wrote in a USA Today op-ed they co-authored recently. “The internet is one of the greatest forces for entrepreneurship in history. We need to update it with a framework for the future.”

No politics, no positioning. Their finding neutral territory to accomplish a shared agenda is a lesson from which members in both chambers can learn.

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