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Peters, DeMaio Nail Down Positions On Net Neutrality

Rep. Scott Peters and Carl DeMaio, the two candidates in the 52nd Congressional District, fielded questions on open government and transparency this week. They also got down in the weeds on a lot of technical issues, including net neutrality.

Net neutrality is a broad term that describes the principle that Internet service providers treat all web content equally. The government is considering allowing Internet providers to set up fast lanes for online companies that are willing to pay for them, but critics worry that small businesses wouldn't be able to afford them and would lose out.

The group Open San Diego, which supports open government, transparency and public access to information, asked Peters and DeMaio about the issue during separate forums on Wednesday and Thursday.

Scott Peters on Net Neutrality

Peters, a Democrat, said he supports net neutrality and has introduced a bill that would give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to set rules to preserve the open Internet. He said the bill would legalize the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order, which banned cable and telecommunications companies from blocking Internet access to certain websites like Netflix. Verizon sued and the order was overturned this year.

The bill would "say to the industry and the innovators, 'This is what we want the Internet to look like at the end. We want it to be widely available, we want it to be open, we don't want people to be paying penalties because they're small, we don't want there to be preferences,'" Peters said.

Related: DeMaio on the Media: ‘Muckraking’ Outlets Are Low Priorities

DeMaio has accused Peters of waffling on net neutrality because Peters signed a letter advocating against further government regulation of the Internet.

Peters addressed that criticism at the forum.

"People drew the conclusion erroneously that I agree with everything the telecoms want," he said of signing the letter. "I like the 2010 Open Internet Order. What I didn't like was regulating the Internet like it was a utility."

Carl DeMaio on Net Neutrality

DeMaio was asked if he thinks the government should regulate the Internet like it regulates other public utilities.

"I don't believe that we should see competitors putting their thumb on the scale on the Internet to basically monetize access to content," he said. "Whatever legislation or whatever rule making needs to occur to prevent that from happening, I would support."

He said there are a number of different avenues to get to net neutrality, but that's his goal.

"As a Republican, I think that's kind of unique," he said. "From what I'm hearing from some of my colleagues, I kind of sit back and say, well, if we're for free markets, free minds, this should be an easy one."