Yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee Markup
by Matt Stoller, Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 07:24:47 AM EDT
So yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee had a markup of the Stevens bill. There are 214 amendments to get through, and they didn't really get through many of them. The Committee didn't vote on the net neutrality issue, or the big bill itself. The Senators will pick this up again on Tuesday.
The Stevens bill is being rushed through the process; it's an extremely complicated piece of legislation with far reaching changes that extend beyond net neutrality. Typically, telecom bills take several Congressional cycles, because it's hard stuff to understand. The bill just doesn't need to get done this year, and the whispers that it won't get done are getting louder. In an election year, a lot of Senators don't want to have to vote on some of the more controversial provisions. The telecom lobbyists are leaning hard to push this through, and Ted Stevens, ever the appropriator and deal-cutter, wants this badly, so we'll see what happens.
So that's where we are on the political front.
In terms of the public debate, there's a bit of new flim-flammery from the telco shills. The telco front-group Hands Off the Internet is running this TV ad which says explicitly that the COPE Act, the law passed in the House that eviscerates network neutrality, actually protects against discrimination on the internet by enshrining network neutrality into law. That claim is false.
And it's obviously false.
I keep pointing to this page on the Hands Off site which asks consumers to write their Senators "to oppose net neutrality". Meanwhile, the TV ad they are running makes the explicit claim that the legislation they support protects net neutrality, including discrimination (which is really the heart of the issue).
This fight really does come down to trust. The telecom lobbyists started their argument by staking themselves as net neutrality opponents, in the guise of 'don't regulate the internet!'; this is also what telecom execs are saying. Now that the lobbyists have realized that network neutrality is popular, they are reversing their position and claiming that their law protects network neutrality better. Which of course guts the consistency of their supposed anti-regulatory approach.
Regardless, they should probably pay someone to update their website and make it all consistently dishonest on one side or the other.