Senate Committee Holding 'Future of the Internet' Hearing

WASHINGTON - Actors, writers and others concerned about the ways in which people will be able to deliver content in the future will testify Tuesday in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's "Future of the Internet" hearing.


Actress Justine Bateman and Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America West, are scheduled to appear before the committee to discuss online distribution of content. Verrone has been outspoken on the issue, a major sticking point in the recent Hollywood writers' strike.


Throughout the three-month strike, Guild members relied on blogs, email and Internet videos to stay informed.


"When your employers are the same companies that control the media, it's hard to get your message out," Verrone told The Associated Press on Monday.


The success of using the Internet throughout the writers' strike prompted Verrone to testify in an effort to push legislation designed to guarantee the Internet's status as an open forum for communication.


Verrone, a television writer and producer for more than 20 years, supports network-neutrality legislation sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Verrone wants the government to ensure that owners of information pipelines in the U.S. do not interfere with the free exchange of ideas.


"The only thing bigger than corporations in this country is the government," he said. "So we think we have to make clear to legislators that we need somebody making sure that that pipe is neutral."


The Senate committee hearing comes on the heels of a Federal Communications Commission hearing held earlier this month at Stanford University. At that gathering, commission members discussed network neutrality and control of the Internet by major Internet service providers.


Also expected to testify at the Senate committee hearing are Internet legal guru and Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig and National Cable and Telecommunications Association President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow.