Sotomayor and Net Neutrality

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

Sotomayor and Net Neutrality

First, I'll join many Americans on congratulating Sonia Sotomayor on being confirmed as a US Supreme Court Justice. It is commendable to be in the position for the job, laudable to be nominated for the job and a significant accomplishment to win confirmation. So, again, congratulations.

During her confirmation hearing, a question was raised regarding Net Neutrality. For the benefit of new readers, Net Neutrality is the idea of equal access or a level playing field for Internet transport. The issue is driven by the desire for content providers and users to see the Internet remain free of arbitrary or business driven restrictions or priorities on the type and amount of content transported by the carriers and ISPs. Net Neutrality proponents want all traffic to be treated equally where packets are delivered on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of the originator or the purpose of the packet. Google and Yahoo! are major proponents of Net Neutrality, as is Broadvox. It is an issue for Broadvox because some carriers are treating VoIP packets differently from other packets. Some large carriers are lobbying the FCC to eliminate Net Neutrality. If eliminated, then websites, content providers and even some ITSPs might be charged additional fees to prevent their content from being placed in low-priority delivery queues. Therefore, knowing her view on Net Neutrality is a useful thing.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota asked Sotomayor this question. "Isn't there a compelling, over-riding First Amendment right here for Americans to have access to the Internet?"

While it seems that Sotomayor supports a policy of allowing for some carrier management of the transported traffic, she seems to be looking to Congress or the FCC to make a law or ruling regarding Net Neutrality prior to offering an opinion. This in one of the key responses nominees make in order to win confirmation, however, I hope that in this case, it is a genuine belief. The Supreme Court is not where Net Neutrality should be decided. Congress and the FCC should take the first step in the process, with my nod going to the FCC as the lead. I hope less political influence will affect the decision if it emanates from them verses Congress.

Based upon Senator Franken's reaction to her answer, I can see he is a proponent of Net Neutrality. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a cause or focus of his senate tenure. The video of the exchange between Sotomayor and Franken is worth watching.

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday with another original recipe.



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