After a week that saw a nationwide day of action prompt more than 300,000 phone calls to Congress regarding net neutrality and more than 3 million comments filed with the FCC in response to the Chairman’s problematic net neutrality rules, startups from around the country came to Washington to make the case for meaningful net neutrality rules in person. With all the attention paid to net neutrality in recent days, we had to make sure that voices from the startup community—including and especially the small businesses who need an open Internet—were being heard in the debate. Representatives from Etsy, Imgur, Meetup, Kickstarter, General Assembly, Dwolla, Vimeo, and Distinc.tt spent the day on September 17 meeting with key lawmakers and officials, explaining to policymakers why an open Internet is so important to their businesses and why the FCC needs to protect the innovative landscape of the Internet by enacting real net neutrality rules.
The startups began the day with a meeting at the White House, discussing their concerns about the Chairman’s proposed rules with key members of the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, including an appearance from newly-named CTO Megan Smith and Deputy CTO Alex Macgillivray.
While the President has already publicly expressed support for net neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from creating fast and slow lanes, the startups made clear to the White House that such rules are only possible through Title II reclassification. Having the President publicly support strong net neutrality rules earlier this summer was an encouraging development, and we are hopeful that the President will continue to pressure the FCC to make the correct decision on Title II reclassification.
The startups next made their way to the Capitol, where they participated in a press conference with Sen. Ed Markey—one of the most prominent and longstanding supporters of Title II reclassification—to further educate the public on the importance of the FCC’s decision. Sen. Markey was joined by Kickstarter’s Michal Rosenn, Dwolla’s Jordan Lampe, and Vimeo’s Michael Chea, each of whom eloquently made the case for Title II reclassification as the only way to preserve an open Internet for future innovators. The afternoon was spent in meetings with key members of Congress and staff, including representatives from both parties’ telecom subcommittees, net neutrality supporters like Sen. Markey and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with members like Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Joe Crowley.
The eventful day was capped with a meeting with Leader Pelosi, who—in between coordinating her delegation’s voting on significant foreign policy issues—sat down with us to discuss her strong support of net neutrality. Her recent letter in support of Title II reclassification showed her willingness to stand up to the powerful cable company lobby and do the right thing to keep the Internet open and competitive for startups in her district and throughout the country.
We are incredibly grateful to the participating startups for taking the time out of running their businesses to let Washington know that, despite not having an army of lobbyists constantly campaigning on their behalf like the ISPs, startups throughout the country are committed to doing what it takes to ensure the FCC enacts meaningful net neutrality rules.