Thursday, April 20, 2006

Did Marsha Blackburn Help the Telecoms Bid Bye Bye to "Net Neutrality"?

If you agree with the idea that private broadband networker providers have a responsibility
not to block, impair, degrade, discriminate against, or interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access, use, send, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services over the Internet,
then you just lost. That is, you're on the losing side of an attempt by a minority of U.S. House Democrats on the Telecommunications subcommittee to provide for enforcement of "net neutrality," which is the idea that everyone, everywhere should have free, non-discriminatory access to the public thoroughfares of the Internet. Under mounting pressure from the phone and cable industry, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress, the subcommittee defeated by a vote of 23-8 an amendment--to the telecommunications bill--that included the wording you read above.

Tennessee Republican representative Marsha Blackburn is one of the members of this subcommittee, but I have not been able to find out the exact voting tally from any source. However, during a subcommittee hearing in late March, Ms. Blackburn reportedly pit herself against an advocate of the public interest (including the National League of Cities) during his testimony. And word out of Washington is that all of the inside-the-Beltway Republicans all the way up to the White House support an unamended telecommunications bill that favors the corporates and promotes "monetizing" the Internet. So, my guess is that she was not among the 8 voting against defeat; that is, the 8 who were in favor of net neutrality and non-discriminatory access.

If this bill passes and gets signed into law, look for more and more discrimination by the telecoms based on private taxes they impose on users and based on your ability to pay those taxes. Then, in a few years, when your side of town does not have the same Internet access as Belle Meade or Brentwood, you can probably thank Marsha Blackburn.

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