HARTFORD, CONN. — Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., stopped by Upward Hartford on May 18 to talk to Hartford entrepreneurs about net neutrality. His visit comes on the heels of the U.S. Senate vote, 52-47 in favor to restore net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment or method of communication.
“We have been in a pitched battle with the broadband companies,” Blumenthal said.
A number of high-profile entrepreneurs have gotten involved in the fight. Earlier this month, Blumenthal was one of a handful of senators who met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to discuss net neutrality amongst other things. And, as the New York Post reported, The Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, Internet Association, — representing Silicon Valley giants like Amazon, Facebook and Netflix — “will file an amicus brief in the suit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other opponents who have vowed to sue to stop the changes” proposed by the FCC.
While most startup founders and solopreneurs do not have a band of lobbyists to do their bidding, Blumenthal did remind local entrepreneurs that they have the power of their voices. He wanted to hear first-hand the effects of net neutrality on Hartford businesses. “I enlist you to think about a way we can make your voices and stories heard,” he said.
Eric Fairchild, senior principal of NEOS, a company revolutionizing data and business strategies for Insurance, Financial Services, and Information services leaders, told the senator that being able to innovate is a crucial part of keeping up with his competitors. “We’ve got millions of folks in the U.S. who are like the people around this table — innovating, competing against billions of folks around the world. The billions of folks around the world are not going to stop innovating as fast they can regardless of how quickly we can or can’t innovate here.”
“There’s a fundamental fairness issue here,” said Bob Burns of Carpe Data. “And it seems to me that the argument has been very much flipped, that we’re trying to make an argument against something where there was a general consensus. Essentially, you’re talking about a public utility that has been funded in large part by the taxpayers and has yielded all this sort of unquestioned innovation.”
Blumenthal plans to return to Upward Hartford to continue the conversation. “It’s an exciting space and you’re doing exciting things,” he added.
As of press time, it was not clear if the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the measure at all, according to Reuters.