SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — High technology executives and two members of the government agency that regulates the industry joined Sen. John Thune Thursday on a tour intended to show how the Internet helps small South Dakota businesses connect with customers from around the world.
Representatives from AOL Inc., Yelp Inc. and Facebook Inc. and two members of the Federal Communications Commission accompanied Thune.
Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association, which organized the event, said it was the seventh such event at which the group shows members of Congress how much traditional companies in their states rely on the Internet.
"Our industry is a relatively new industry, when you think about the history of commerce in the United States," he said. "We want to help build that understanding that the Internet is building jobs throughout the country."
Thune is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees Internet issues, and is in line to become chairman if the Republicans regain a majority of the U.S. Senate in November. He will be influential in the debate over an FCC proposal that would allow Internet providers to charge other companies for priority, high-speed, access to their users.
The FCC on May 15 moved the proposed rules governing so-called "net neutrality" into a formal public comment period. After that 120-day period ends, the FCC will revise the proposal and vote on a final set of rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he wants the rules in place by the end of this year.