This is cool. A bit of our recent interview with Microsoft VP Brad Smith got picked up by the D.C. mag The Hill this week.

Last week, we had asked Smith about Microsoft's apparent shift away from demanding net neutrality rules on the web. Net neutrality is the idea that ISPs can't favor certain content over other content. And Microsoft, along with other content providers like Amazon and Google, has been in a standoff with ISPs like AT&T and Comcast over the issue for years.



However, Microsoft had reportedly backed off, and I asked Smith about it. First, he gave a politic answer, saying Microsoft was a moderate on the issue now because they hadn't seen any major problems with ISPs picking and choosing winners. In short, the market seemed to be working, and he thought a legislative mandate—something Microsoft-area U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, 1) has been pushing for—might create more problems than it solved.

But as he kept talking, he noted another factor: search engines like, (although, he didn't name names) Microsoft's former net neutrality ally, but Internet rival, Google.

Spider senses tingling, I wrote this (and this is the part The Hill picked up):
The real threat to controlling content, Smith said, wasn’t Orwellian ISPs, "it’s search," he announced, referring to search engines that direct traffic on the web. Was Smith’s Google envy showing? "Where is the biggest lack of competition?" he asked. "Search!"

In related news: Inslee, who's been on this issue for years, sent a letter to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski just yesterday calling for net neutrality—a direct response to letter that Republican members, including Washington State U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Doc Hasting, and—in a flip flop—Dave Reichert had sent Genachowski, calling on the FCC to back off.

Here's Inslee's letter, which several Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7), but not any others from Washington State's delegation, signed:
June 16, 2010
The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW


Washington, DC  20554

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

A free and open broadband platform has transformed the ways Americans, learn, interact, and do business.  As legislators committed to expanding access to open, affordable, world-class broadband networks, we have a very strong interest in promoting policies that can support these goals. To that end we strongly support your proposal to reclassify broadband as
a "telecommunications service" under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and Congress' commitment to begin the process of updating the Act. The actions of both the FCC and Congress are complementary and critical to ensuring that the widely supported goals of the National Broadband Plan to deploy open broadband networks to rural, low-income, and disabled Americans are realized.


The evolution of our communications infrastructure has driven our economy, and it has done so under the watchful eye of Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.  Recently, however, the U.S. District Court of Appeals ruling in the Comcast v. FCC case has undermined the legal foundation of the FCC's authority to regulate a cornerstone of that infrastructure - broadband technology.  The court's decision
rescinded the FCC's authority, under the Title I framework, to protect consumers and promote infrastructure development on the dominant communications network of our time.  Clearly, this outcome is not sustainable.


We believe it is prudent for the FCC to pursue this course of action in a manner that is designed and implemented to ensure that broadband innovation remains a powerful engine of economic growth.  We note that your proposal solely seeks to provide a light regulatory touch to the physical networks that connect consumers to online products and services, and only apply a limited number of Title II provisions. Additionally, this approach does not seek to regulate the content and applications that make up the consumer experience of the Internet.  It
is both proper and fitting to have public policies that oversee critical infrastructure to achieve the goals of the nation.  The path you have chosen is well-reasoned, appropriate, and consistent with the law.


Again, we applaud your proposal and we look forward to
working with you and our colleagues in Congress to deliver the social and economic opportunities of communications technology to all Americans.


Sincerely,

Rep. Jay Inslee

Rep. Jared Polis
Rep. John Conyers
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. George Miller
Rep. Lloyd Doggett
Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. Sam Farr
Rep. Tim Walz
Rep. John Tierney
Rep. Linda Sanchez
Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. Barney Frank
Rep. Chellie Pingree
Rep. James McGovern
Rep. Janice Schakowsky
Rep. Raul Grialva
Rep. Donald Payne
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. David Wu
Rep. Jared Nadler
Rep. John Olver
Rep. Pete Stark
Rep. James Moran
Rep. Paul Hodes
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