Former GOP Rep. to lead tech company push against ‘fast lanes’

A former Republican member of Congress has signed on to lead a number of tech companies, realtors and start-ups pushing for strong rules for the Internet.

Former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), who currently leads the Comptel communications trade group, is leading the new Internet Freedom Business Alliance, the group announced on Thursday.

{mosads}Companies including Tumblr, Reddit and Etsy have signed on as founding members of the alliance, which is singularly focused on net neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers should be prohibited from giving people different service depending on which websites they visit.

The group seems to be targeting conservatives by pushing a “free market” agenda.

Many of the companies, however, have urged the FCC to enact tough regulations on the Internet by turning to the section of the law that it uses to police traditional wired phone lines, which many Republicans and other critics have warned would amount to government stifling of innovation on the Web.

“As the leading association of competitive communications service providers, we know firsthand that solid open Internet protections will promote, not hinder, broadband investment and innovation,” Pickering argued in a statement. “Internet openness enables a self-reinforcing cycle of investment and innovation — and we’re ready to take this message to bipartisan policymakers with our new alliance of conservatives, Main Street, small businesses and technology companies.”   

The steering committee will include Comptel as well as the National Association of Realtors, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and startup advocacy group Engine.

“We understand how valuable an open Internet is to innovation, and a free market with no fast or slow lanes is what allows Etsy sellers to compete with much bigger, more established brands,” said Etsy public policy director Althea Erickson.   

Tags Chip Pickering Internet Freedom Business Alliance Net neutrality Network neutrality

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