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Lawmaker pledges allegiance to an open Internet

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Sen. Harry Reid has made tech news headlines this week with his announcement that he will support net neutrality. The Senate Majority Leader is pushing for an open Internet in the United States.

An open Internet, often referred to as "net neutraility," is getting a lot of discussion as the Federal Communications Commission takes comments on whether equal service levels should remain.

A court overturned a previous FCC standpoint that prevented Internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast from restricting Internet use for customers who aren't willing to pay more for a "fast lane." Those customers would be forced into using "slow lanes."

This has not sat well with many open Internet advocates, including many attorneys, publishers, tech startups and average citizens. In fact, Tech Times previously reported that during an FCC comment period, the regulator's website crashed from receiving over 800,000 public submissions and comments, which were made publicly available on the website.The comment period was set to expire on July 15, but was extended three days after the crash. A second round of comments on the comments runs into September.

Reid, D-Nev., vowed that, if neccessary, he would join a fight against congressional Republicans in the U.S. to treat all data with equal regard. He said he "has the FCC's back," according to one report. ISPs have been lobbying Congress to allow them to charge more for faster Internet speed on selected websites. This would mean that they could favor their own content over others and adjust speeds accordingly, effectively limiting competition from other publishers and information providers. ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner are also content providers.

Many argue that the Internet has become so integral to daily life that it should be regarded like a utility by the government, according to another report. Indeed, there are arguments that support the idea of the Internet as part of a vital infrastructure and so-called slow lanes would likely impede services so frequently used online. Many cities, like Minneapolis, are starting public Wi-Fi initiatives. The city of Minneapolis is building networks in various neighborhoods in its own infrastructure experiment.

The FCC will be setting guidelines yet this year, according to reports. Its decision might also alter how the Internet is regulated as well as determine its free-market status.

Reid has served his party since the 1980s. He has served as the Senate Majority Leader since 2007. He previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip in Congress.

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