How Lobbyists Killed Net Neutrality

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How Lobbyists Killed Net Neutrality

// The Problem

Lobbyists are killing the internet! Just ask Josh Silver, Director of Represent.Us and former internet and media reform advocate. He spent years working on Net Neutrality as president of FreePress, so he knows what he’s talking about.

In fact, the reason Josh left the media reform world is because he got sick of seeing his efforts thwarted by an openly corrupt political system. That corruption just struck again. This time, it came in the form of a devastating ruling on net neutrality. But as Josh explains, that ruling was made possible by a chain of events set in motion years before. The message here is clear: If we want a free and open internet, we need to deal with the corruption that is money in politics first.

// The Solutions

If you want to take up the fight to protect Net Neutrality, you should support our good friends at Free Press and sign their petition to the FCC. If you’re sick and tired of fighting the same battle against the same special interest lobbyists over, and over, and over — on ever issue that matters to everyday Americans — join us by filling in your information and clicking “add my name.”

All campaign contribution and lobbying data referenced in this story comes courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics

// TRANSCRIPT

This week a federal court overturned the Net Neutrality rules passed in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission. Those rules prevent your internet providers – like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast or Time Warner – from indiscriminately blocking or slowing down your internet service.

Here’s why this whole situation is both absurdly corrupt and completely avoidable.

Over the past 20 years, the internet has evolved:  from emails, then to webpages to audio, to games and now television and tons of other amazing stuff. It is the primary source for most communications. And during those 20 years, the largest phone and cable company lobbyists have become one of the biggest spenders in Washington to buy politicians and control the internet to maximize profits.  They have passed laws that literally prevent competition. That’s why you have hardly any choices for your internet provider, and extremely slow and expensive in comparison to most other countries. But back to Net Neutrality.

The story starts in 2002 with this guy, Michael Powell, He’s the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell – and he got a job running the Federal Communications Commission (I’m sure there was no nepotism there). The Internet was growing fast,  and industry lobbyists convinced  Powell to classify the Internet as an “information service”, rather than a “telecommunications service.” “Who cares,” you ask?  Federal law says that telecommunications are a regulated service. That’s how the government made sure that every home in America had affordable home phone service in the 20th century. It’s why, when dial-up internet first started, there was lots of competition and low prices. It’s why there were strong protections against anyone wiretapping your phone service. Oh the good old days… On the other hand, “information services” are barely regulated.

A few years after Powell’s decision, companies like Comcast got busted favoring their internet content over others, and it all came to a head when this guy, Julius Genachowski was appointed by President Obama to run the FCC.  The president said on the campaign trail that he would “take a back seat to no one on net neutrality”  so nervous  industry lobbyists started throwing huge money and propaganda around, calling it a government takeover of the Internet.  72 House Democrats joined most of the Republicans in calling for the FCC to stand down. So, actually passing strong Net Neutrality rules would have required that Chairman Genachowski reclassify internet as a telecommunications service, or the new rules would eventually get thrown out by the courts. Everyone knew it, but Obama’s FCC caved to cable and phone lobbyists, passed weak Net Neutrality rules, and claimed victory.

And so we arrive at 2014. The court has thrown out the rules, Congress won’t save us because they are bought, and the only one who can realistically fix this is Obama’s new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.  But Wheeler, wait for it, is the former president of the National Cable Television Association, and the former head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association!  So the government official who could fix this is the former chief lobbyist for the companies who just won the court case against the FCC so that they can screw consumers and make more money.

If this isn’t yet another reason for everyone in this country to stop what you’re doing and join an American anti-corruption movement dedicated to ending this nonsense, I don’t know what is.

Source from Email: Open Secrets