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4/26/2007
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Christian Coalition Calls Net Neutrality A 'Family Issue'

The Christian Coalition argues that network neutrality is a family issue that should become part of the national presidential debate among Republicans and Democrats.

Net neutrality could become the next family value if the Christian Coalition of America gets its way.

In a teleconference marking the one-year anniversary of the SaveTheInternet campaign to keep the Internet content-neutral, the Christian Coalition's Michele Combs said Wednesday network neutrality is a "family issue" that should become part of the national presidential debate among Republicans and Democrats.

Combs was one of several people who said they will continue to push for net neutrality legislation, which would prevent telecommunications and cable companies from prioritizing Internet traffic based on content or source.

Proponents of the legislation argue they want to guarantee individuals and small companies the same access and delivery speeds as larger companies, rather than allowing telecommunications and cable providers to charge larger companies higher rates for faster speed.

Telecommunications companies and other net neutrality opponents have said they need flexibility to help pay for improved infrastructure and services. They also have argued that government interference would stifle innovation, posing a greater threat to the future of the Internet than tiered pricing for prioritized treatment.

A group called Hands Off The Internet has recently criticized net neutrality advocates for taking on other issues, saying they're now protesting the U.S. Postal Service's plans for discounts for bulk stamp buyers. It also has said that network television's increasing delivery of programs via the Internet is placing a strain on capacity.

Combs' traditionally conservative group weighed in on the same side of the issue as MoveOn.org Civic Action, a liberal grassroots group.

"We believe that net neutrality is a true family issue," she said. "We believe that it will affect millions of families around the country. Most of our state chairmen have Web sites, and most of our churches have Web sites. Most churches rely on the Internet -- some even have sermons on the Internet now."

Adam Green, of MoveOn.org, said that widespread support of net neutrality is "nothing short of a grassroots Internet revolution."

Momentum for network neutrality legislation reached a fever pitch last year, but the debate has been somewhat quieter since AT&T and BellSouth agreed to net neutrality provisions in their merger agreement.

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