Squishy House Dems to Sell Us Out on Internet Freedom?

Last week was a big week for the internet freedom folks.  We won a vote in the Judiciary Committee for the Sensenbrenner-Conyers Bill (HR5417) to preserve internet freedom.  For those who haven't been following, the basic gist of the issue is that the government has always set basic rules for the wires that carry internet traffic.  These rules don't let the telcos that manage those wires block anyone's traffic, and we want to keep it that way.  The telcos want to be able to block traffic and web sites so they can favor some services over others, so they want to strip the FCC of the authority they have to enforce these rules.  The business and political case is clear.  Senior telco execs have publicly discussed slowing down Google's web site if Yahoo pays them, for instance.  There are political implications as well; a Canadian ISP have blocked the web site of a union striking against them.  Telcos have always hated the internet, and now that they see the opportunity to put up tollbooths everywhere and make the internet work as clunkily as cell phone service, they are trying to seize it through their massive political leverage.  

Ok, so we won on the vote last week with nearly all Democrats voting for the bill and 5 Repulicans coming to our side.  HR5417 now goes to the Rules Committee, which determines when and whether bills go to the floor.  The Rules Committee is a small and corrupt body controlled by Republican leadership, and rarely allows bill to the floor that the Republican leaders don't like.  And Hastert is whipping hard against internet freedom, and the Rules Committee is more his turf than it is Sensenbrenner's.

The danger here is that the conflict between the Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee produces a meaningless substitute bill, and some squishy Dem like Bill Delahunt sells us out and cosponsors it (Weiner is another possibility since he had reservations about the bill).  That bill can then go to the floor and House Democrats will then vote for it while whimpering that it's the only pro-net neutrality legislation they had the opportunity to vote for.

This is where we are now.  Of course, we never expected to be able to put up a fight in the House period, so this is exceptional.  But be aware that we could be sold out on this.

The telcos are desperate to get something through Congress this year, because they are watching the growing list of candidates who are running on this issue.  They never expected this to be a voting issue.  I've created a special web page for 'internet freedom' candidates, and I've added Linda Stender in New Jersey's seventh Congressional district.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Al Wynn in Maryland's 4th district, and his primary challenger Donna Edwards.  Wynn is a seriously bad guy, and Edwards is very well-respected.

Tags: Al Wynn, Anthony Weiner, Bill Delahunt, Dennis Hastert, Donna Edwards, HR 5417, Jim Sensenbrenner, Judiciary Committee, Linda Stender, net neutrality, Rules Committee (all tags)

Comments

11 Comments

Re: Who REALLY supports net neutrality?

I'm disappointed that you chose to add Paul Aronsohn in NJ's 5th district to this list and not that of Camille Abate, who recently went into great detail in a radio interview about why she supports net neutrality, whereas Aronsohn's public statements about it are limited to a terse comment on BlueJersey.net.

Color me skeptical about Aronsohn's commitment to net neutrality, when he puts Mike McCurry out there as a "special guest" at one of his fundraisers and tells me he has to learn more about it.  You take money from McCurry's clients, they are going to expect something in return.  And McCurry is the leading shill for the telcos.

I realize that Aronsohn is the party apparatchiks' anointed candidate (and Blue Jersey's guy), but I would have hoped that at the very least, both candidates would have been included.

I have no confidence, based on what I've heard from Aronsohn, that he would buck a press by House Republicans to sell the internet to the telcos -- or even that he understands what net neutrality is.

by B at B 2006-05-31 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Who REALLY supports net neutrality?

Send me a link to her public statement on net neutrality and I'll add her.  

by Matt Stoller 2006-05-31 10:08AM | 0 recs
by ninapam 2006-06-02 01:54AM | 0 recs
Thinking ahead

We also should be planning now for a filibuster fight.  If the big corporations can block internet sites, that's the whole ballgame for us.

We should never forget what happened after Reagan pulled the Fairness Doctrine, and then, later, the rules on concentration of media ownership were also repealed.  Today you can't turn on a radio without hearing that liberals are bad and conservastives are good.  You will NOT EVER see or hear a union official (or anyone else) talking about the benefits of joining a union.  These are just a few little examples of how the "marketplace of ideas" has been affected.   Now ALL WE HAVE is the Internet, and that is what this is about.

by davej 2006-05-31 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Thinking ahead

Yes. This is the only process issue that matters right now. Controlling fundraising doesn't do anything to get alternative messages out, and that's exactly what progressives need to be doing. Right wing talk radio gave us Reagan, gave us Gingrich and gave us Bush Jr. Web-based political organizing has helped level the playing field and given us a chance to free the naiton from right wing zealotry. We have to stop this assault. Shame on Mike McCurry and shame on any Dems who sell out on this issue.

your friend
keith

by keith johnson 2006-05-31 11:05AM | 0 recs
Please add me to your list.

Please add me to your list.

by benmasel 2006-05-31 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems to Sell Us Out on Internet Freedom?

Matt,

I agree with you whole heartedly. I issued this press release yesterday. We have to fight for fair and open access for all net users and I will make that a priority in my tenure.

John Courage

LAMAR SMITH VOTES AGAINST NET NEUTRALITY
Vote shows Smith "out of touch"
Austin, TX- May 30, 2006

Lamar Smith showed again recently that he is out of touch with his constituents by voting against a bill that would stop Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers from operating in a discriminatory manner.

Smith voted against The Internet Freedom and Discrimination Act of 2006, which requires broadband providers to adhere to Network Neutrality rules stipulating that they may not do anything that would impair their customers' access to Web content offered by their competitors in the industry, such as slowing down an individual's Internet access when they are using a competitor, or censorship via blocking access to specific web sites for all users.

John Courage had this to say: "Smith's vote sends a clear message to his constituents that he believes it is acceptable for major providers to monopolize access to the Internet. Smith either does not understand that people's access to the Internet is in danger, or just does not care. His vote against Net Neutrality underscores his disconnect from his constituents who use the Internet everyday."

It was Lamar Smith who voiced the loudest opposition to the bill, saying he would prefer "to leave these decisions to the courts to work out on a case-by-case basis under the antitrust law." The existing bill is far too regulatory and could "put a straightjacket on this important sector of the economy," Smith said.

Under measures supported by those who disagree with Net Neutrality, major providers would be permitted to selectively restrict internet access based on financial agreements. For example, a user could buy a song on iTunes and be faced with excessively long download times if their Internet service provider had reached an agreement with a competing service.

The bill's passage "shows that the politicians are listening to the vast number of citizens who don't want the Internet to become the private domain of the cable and telephone monopolies," a spokesman for the grassroots SavetheInternet.com Coalition said.

The SavetheInternet.com Coalition launched a little over a month ago, the group's spokesman said. Since then, more than 700 groups "spanning the political spectrum" have joined, including MoveOn.org, the Christian Coalition, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Gun Owners of America, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American Library Association, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist.

###

http://www.courageforcongress.org
For Immediate Release
May 30, 2006
Contact:

Meredith Adams
email: madams@courageforcongress.org
phone: 979-220-0257  

by acourageous1 2006-05-31 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Squishy House Dems to Sell Us Out on Internet

Dave Bruderly in FL-06 recently wrote an op-ed supporting Net neutrality, though I don't think it's been published. I can send it via email.

by tetraminoe 2006-05-31 11:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Squishy House Dems to Sell Us Out on Internet
Published in Jacksonville Business Journal: Telecom giants threaten Net neutrality, June 2, 2006.
by tetraminoe 2006-06-04 08:17PM | 0 recs
by progressivearlingtonian 2006-06-02 03:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Squishy House Dems to Sell Us Out on Internet

John Courage had this to say: "Smith's vote sends a clear message to his constituents that he believes it is acceptable for major providers to monopolize access to the Internet. Smith either does not understand that people's access to the Internet is in danger, or just does not care. His vote against Net Neutrality underscores his disconnect from his constituents who use the Internet everyday."

It was Lamar Smith who voiced the loudest opposition to the bill, saying he would prefer "to leave these decisions to the courts to work out on a case-by-case basis under the antitrust law." The existing bill is far too regulatory and could "put a straightjacket on this important sector of the economy," Smith said.

Under measures supported by those who disagree with Net Neutrality, major providers would be permitted to selectively restrict internet access based on financial agreements. For example, a user could buy a song on iTunes and be faced with excessively long download times if their Internet service provider had reached an agreement with a competing service.

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by amokire 2006-11-13 10:09PM | 0 recs

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