Republican Senate candidates say they would not back net neutrality

Posted April 28, 2014
Updated April 29, 2014

— The four leading candidates in North Carolina's Republican U.S. Senate primary all said Monday that they would oppose so-called "net neutrality" legislation and regulations, which would require Internet service providers to give equal access to all content providers, including streaming services such as Netflix.

Net neutrality is a major issue in the tech community and the subject of controversial Federal Communications Commission rule making. The commission is reportedly considering a proposal that would allow for the creation of faster lanes over which content could flow, if providers are willing to pay for it. 

Some consumer advocates say this would drive up user costs and give an advantage to established companies with deep pockets over start-up companies with innovative ideas.

During a debate broadcast by UNC-TV Monday night, Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant, Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte and state House Speaker Thom Tillis all said they oppose allowing the federal government to set rules for how much priority companies like Time Warner Cable needed to give certain kinds of Internet traffic.

Brannon said the Constitution doesn't give the federal government  the power to regulate such traffic.

"The worst thing in the world we could do is for the federal government to put in barriers to make things fair," Brannon said, adding that, when the federal government tries to enforce fairness, it is akin to socialism. 

Grant, too, said there "should be no government involvement," while Harris said, "I would oppose the federal government getting involved."

Tillis said that competition should be allowed to govern Internet speed. He pointed out that, in many places in North Carolina, consumers have a choice of Internet service providers.

Left unsaid: Those areas tend to be urban areas such as Raleigh, and there are still parts of North Carolina without access to high-speed Internet. 

"The last thing we need is the government to tell cable providers and Internet providers how fast or slow the content needs to be," Tillis said. 

It's worth noting that Tillis has faced criticism from a fellow Republican lawmaker for his support of a bill that would prohibit cities and counties from creating their own Internet services.

It is unclear what Hagan's position might be on the current FCC net neutrality proposal, but she is on the record as generally supporting the concept. 

"I support net neutrality because it speaks to the values central to our American Democracy – free speech and equal opportunity. With an open Internet, we can ensure communities throughout the state of North Carolina and the nation receive equal access to the Internet as well as the information contained there, to help ensure our country can compete on a global level," she said in 2008.


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  • dib May 6, 2014

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    No equal speed to all sites for what you as a customer pay. Not controlled by ISPs and corporations.

  • goldenosprey May 1, 2014

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    Kind of like privatized, for profit healthcare, surprise, surprise.

    This issue is illustrative of the truth that seems to elude conservatives. The GOP does not care about the abstract concept of "freedom", it cares only for faceless, unaccountable large corporations. Without neutrality all consumers will see costs go up, service become more restricted and slower, or both.

  • Alan Baker Apr 30, 2014
    user avatar

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    But somehow everything corporations touch turns into a glowing utopia of privacy and freedom?

  • Drifter Apr 30, 2014

    All this does is drive up the cost for consumers. This is why net neutrality is needed. GOP's never figured out that businesses can't be trusted to self regulate, they'll do everything as cheap as possible, including service. Right now I pay a certain amount for upload/download speeds. It shouldn't matter what site I'm using, I should get those speeds. Without net neutrality, the cost of your ISP is going to go up (So you get preferred service), and the cost of your services will go up, because they have to pay your ISP more. It's win win for the ISP and lose lose for the consumer. And don't say we can just switch ISPs, despite what the GOP thinks, that's not really an option until we get faster/better/more competitive services like fiber and cable that aren't owned by one company.

    This pretty much ensures I don't vote GOP for senate.

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  • Just another bad guy Apr 30, 2014

    Net neutrality. Assigning the same speed limit to all roads.

  • Danny22 Apr 30, 2014

    I'm still waiting for my 2500.00 cost decrease for my healthcare. Anything the gov't touches turns into communism and takes away our privacy and rights. Look at the NSA.

  • denisdh Apr 30, 2014

    Net neutrality abolishes slavery of the internet companies giving preferential treatment to those that line their pockets.

  • dirtydozen431 Apr 30, 2014

    I just left the library in Durham and there is a Republican poll worker there that's yelling at everybody about his candidate. Its like politicking by volume.

  • Justin Case Apr 30, 2014
    user avatar

    I support net neutrality. It's one thing for me to pay for higher speeds to my house/business and something completely different to allow my ISP to control that speed based on business arrangements or political preferences for specific web sites. We don't need government skewing such a fundamental service as access to the world via internet.