Consumer Groups Wooing Computer Industry

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Consumer groups are wooing the computer hardware and software industries to
fight for government policies that police the activities of
high-speed-data-network owners, including phone and cable companies.

'It would appear that we do have some similar concerns,' said Matthew J.
Tanielian, vice president of the Information Technology Industry Council,
members of which include Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Dell Computer
Corp. and -- surprisingly -- AOL Time Warner Inc.

On Tuesday, four consumer groups sent a letter to the High Tech Broadband
Coalition (of which Tanielian's ITIC is a member) suggesting that Internet
consumers and segments of the computer industry share the goal of ensuring that
network owners do not discriminate against unaffiliated content and application
providers.

The letter was drafted by the Consumer Federation of America, the Center for
Digital Democracy, the Consumers Union and the Media Access Project, all of
which have been heavily involved in lobbying the Federal Communications
Commission on broadband-regulation policy.

Tanielian noted that some proposals in the four-page letter tracked with
concerns the coalition raised in comments filed with the FCC in June.

In those comments, the coalition said cable operators were, among other
things, imposing 'troubling' conditions on subscriber use of devices and access
to applications and Web sites.

'We're interested in talking to [the consumer groups],' Tanielian said. 'What
that will lead to at this point, I am not sure. I believe the high-tech industry
and consumers have a lot in common on broadband issues.'

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