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WASHINGTON -- Members of the Coalition voiced strong support for the bipartisan "Internet Freedom Preservation Act 2008" (HR 5353) introduced today by Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.). This landmark bill would protect Net Neutrality and spark a much-needed public conversation about the future of the Internet.

"The introduction of this legislation gives hope to the millions of Americans who want the public -- not phone and cable companies -- in control of the Internet," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which coordinates the Coalition. "This bill takes the issue outside the Beltway -- and away from the corrupting influence of telecom lobbyists -- to the communities across the country that want to share in the enormous economic and social benefits of an open Internet."

Big phone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner have been lobbying to kill Net Neutrality -- the longstanding principle that prevents them from discriminating against Web sites or services based on their source, ownership or destination. The new bill would write Net Neutrality protections into the Communications Act to preserve the open and non-discriminatory Internet.

"We believe that Net Neutrality is a family issue," said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America. "At its core, the Christian Coalition is a grassroots organization that wholly depends on our ability to communicate with our members and chapters across the country. This bill is essential for that. It protects Net Neutrality and ensures that we can build a better America by connecting everyone to an open Internet."

The bill would also require the Federal Communications Commission to actively protect the free-flowing Internet from all gatekeepers. This legislation firmly establishes baseline consumer protections in communications law that ensure all broadband networks will be open and free from discrimination. It requires the FCC to study broadband policy more broadly on this backdrop of openness. The FCC recently launched an investigation -- spurred by a complaint from members of the Coalition and thousands of letters from concerned citizens -- into blocking of Internet services by cable and phone companies.

"The Teamsters support Congressman Markey's bill making Net Neutrality the law of the land," said International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "The Internet has become the last refuge for truth and balance for organizations fighting for public safety, public security, workers' rights and the public's right to know. Americans need to ask themselves: What good is free speech if a handful of powerful corporations have the ability to shut off or slow viewpoints they find objectionable? I applaud Congressman Markey and encourage other union members to stand with the 1.4 million-member strong International Brotherhood of Teamsters."

The Coalition is an historic grassroots alliance of more than 800 groups from across the political spectrum, small businesses, thousands of bloggers, and millions of everyday people concerned about the future of the Internet. Members range from to the Gun Owners of America and include Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, the ACLU, the American Library Association and leading Internet scholars such as Professors Lawrence Lessig and Tim Wu.

As more people learn of the importance of Net Neutrality, new organizations are joining the coalition and voicing their support for open Internet policies.

"Gamers, the majority of whom are in the coveted 18-45 demographic, increasingly use the Internet to communicate, mobilize and play the increasingly complex games they enjoy," said Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), a national nonprofit membership organization established to serve the needs of those who play computer and video games. "We at ECA laud Congressman Markey for introducing the bipartisan Internet Freedom Preservation Act to preserve and promote open, accessible and neutral Internet throughout America. We look forward to participating in the discussion fostered by this important legislation."

"An open Internet connection is no longer a luxury; it's a necessity for every American to take part in our 21st century democracy," Karr said. "The public must speak out against would-be gatekeepers that seek to filter or control the future of the Internet."

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