Clinton Tech Policy Statement Vows To Defend FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules


Days after Silicon Valley’s business elite endorsed Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee today spelled out her tech agenda saying that she “strongly supports” the FCC’s tough net neutrality rules — and opposes initiatives such as the Hollywood-supported Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Tech companies vigorously support net neutrality, which bars internet providers from favoring some services over others. For example, the FCC rules prohibit Comcast from transmitting Hulu, which it co-owns, faster than Netflix.

Clinton “would defend these rules in court and continue to enforce them,” her campaign says in its “Initiative on Technology & Innovation.”

That would seem to put her at odds with internet providers — mostly cable and phone companies.

They say the rules are unnecessary and will chill investment, and have vowed to appeal this month’s court ruling upholding the FCC’s decision to reclassify the internet as a regulated common carrier service. Justices in an earlier case said this was necessary to clarify the FCC’s authority.

Clinton’s new policy statement is less clear about the policies she would favor to protect copyrighted works from piracy — one of Hollywood’s big concerns.

It says that the copyright system “has languished for many decades, and is in need of administrative reform to maximize its benefits in the digital age.”

Still, she “maintains her opposition to policies that unnecessarily restrict the free flow of data online –such as the high profile fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).”

The proposal, which Hollywood supported, would have given the government the right to block overseas web sites that traffic in pirated content. It collapsed in early 2012 after the Obama administration opposed it, saying it threatened free speech.

Clinton says today that she wants to “modernize the copyright system by unlocking—and facilitating access to—orphan works that languished unutilized, benefiting neither their creators nor the public.” She would “encourage stakeholders to work together on creative solutions that remove barriers to the seamless and efficient licensing of content in the U.S. and abroad.”

In addition to these plans, Clinton says she will “accelerate” the FCC’s effort to redeploy airwave spectrum to promote speedy wireless internet services.

She would “challenge state and local governments to identify, review, and reform legal and regulatory obligations that protect legacy incumbents against new innovators.” That could put a spotlight on states that bar municipalities from creating broadband services that challenge cable systems or that limit access to utility poles.

Clinton says she can protect privacy rights without undermining national security and law enforcement. She would support a move to create a national commission on digital security and encryption that would “work with the technology and public safety communities to address the needs of law enforcement, protect the privacy and security of all Americans that use technology, assess how innovation might point to new policy approaches, and advance our larger national security and global competitiveness interests.”

Activist group Free Press applauded the open internet proposals — but says it “lacks details” about how to balance privacy and security,

“Now that Clinton has released her internet and technology priorities, we ask presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to do the same,” CEO Craig Aaron says. “Voters need to know where the candidates stand on these crucial issues.”

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