Portland was on the front lines defending an open and neutral Internet when cable companies first planned high-speed “broadband” (late 1990s). Portland’s fight became what is now the “net neutrality” issue — the idea that Internet content should NOT be favored, blocked or slowed down based on where the content originates. This ensures that the website of your school, small business or doctor loads as quickly as the website for HBO or the NFL. In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission finally adopted a rule requiring that the Internet be open, neutral and fair to all. This is based on the principle that Internet access remains a necessity like utilities – everyone needs equal access. However, the FCC voted in May to roll back the legal basis of net neutrality. If finalized, what will “voluntary” net neutrality mean for consumers, small businesses and the future of Internet access? Will a handful of gatekeepers charge higher rates for “fast lanes” at the expense of consumers, schools and small businesses?
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has advocated nondiscriminatory and affordable Internet access from the earliest days and is nationally recognized as one of Congress’s leading proponents of Internet freedom and consumer rights (including privacy). David Olson, Past Director of the Portland Cable Office, was an architect of Portland’s fight for an open Internet in the 1990s. Please join us for a unique conversation with two “Oregon pioneers” on why this issue matters, and how the FCC’s attempt to roll back the clock might affect Oregonians and the world.
Co-Presented by City Club of Portland and the World Affairs Council of Oregon