Gun Rights Organization Distances Itself from Net Neutrality Coalition

By Beecher Tuttle August 24, 2010

In the face of heavy criticism from one of its rightwing counterparts, the Gun Owners of America (GOA) announced that it has pulled out of the Save the Internet Coalition, an organization aimed at enforcing federal net neutrality rules.

GOA, which was one of the founding members of the coalition, was recently blasted by the conservative blog RedState for aligning itself with an intensely liberal group of organizations, including the ACLU, ACORN and, according to The Hill.

GOA’s departure may serve as a damaging blow for the coalition as it often used the gun rights group as an example of its bipartisan nature. Several conservative groups – including various Tea Party chapters – have publicly spoken out against the Federal Communications Commission’s recent pursuit of government-controlled internet regulations.

Erich Pratt, communications director for GOA, told The Hill that the organization made the move because it no longer agrees with the coalition’s vision for net neutrality rules.

“Back in 2006 we supported net neutrality, as we had been concerned that AOL and others might continue to block pro-second amendment issues,” he said. “The issue has now become one of government control of the Internet, and we are 100 percent opposed to that.”

Save the Internet’s campaign manager, Tim Karr, said that the coalition remains bipartisan, and that GOA is simply responding to political pressures caused by the impending November elections.

Last month, a small group of Republican Senators introduced a piece of legislation that would limit the FCC’s ability to impose net neutrality rules.

The proposed bill, known as the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act, is aimed at preventing “unnecessary” regulation that would deter new Internet investments. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and six other GOP senators introduced legislation that would drastically restrict the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to regulate broadband providers.

In July, TechZone360 reported that while the initiative of “net neutrality” was being supported by Web developers and consumer advocacy groups, the wireless carrier community had been concerned that such a rule’s passing could significantly impact services and the growth of revenue-generating high-bandwidth applications.

In a letter to the FCC chairman in May, members of the Open Internet Coalition applauded FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s “middle ground approach,” but said the recent decision in Comcast v. FCC “has raised serious doubts about the FCC’s ability to implement the National Broadband Plan and other important initiatives using so-called ‘ancillary’ authority under Title I of the Communications Act.”

Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for TechZone360. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. He received his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Colorado.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Web Editor

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