Sen. Maria Cantwell – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Sen. Maria Cantwell

Senator for Washington State


Sen. Maria Cantwell, who has represented Washington state since 2001, has been an outspoken proponent of strengthened net neutrality rules long before the Federal Communications Commission recently passed new open Internet regulations.

In 2011, the Democrat introduced a bill that would ban paid prioritization of Internet traffic, saying consumers would lose out if “we let telecom oligarchs control access to the Internet,” according to an article from The Hill.

During her time on the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, she was a vocal critic of Internet service providers charging a premium to divert Internet traffic into fast lanes.

“I encourage the FCC to adopt robust and durable rules to prevent blocking, throttling, and fast lanes, and to safeguard transparency for consumers.” Cantwell said in November 2014. “These rules should apply both to the wired and wireless broadband networks so that your Web browser, your personal computer, and your apps on your phone all are treated in the same way.”

Most startup CEOs said a two-tiered Internet system would hurt their companies.

In the months leading up to the FCC decision, Cantwell took time to hear from a slew of tech companies in Seattle about their concerns and insight about net neutrality. Most startup CEOs said a two-tiered Internet system would hurt their companies, which Cantwell then relayed to her colleagues in the Senate.

Cantwell, who is ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has also made clean energy a top priority and supports reducing oil imports and promoting more use of domestically produced biofuels. She has been outspoken on improving the safe transport of crude oil, and called for experts to study how gases in tank cars hauling crude oil can cause explosions or derailments.

Before winning her Senate seat, Cantwell was vice president of RealNetworks, a Seattle company that produces online audio and video technology. The Miami University of Ohio alum was born in Indianapolis, and was the first in her family to graduate from college.

– Corinne Lestch

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.