Keep the Internet Open: Update

Last week, the Senate voted on SJ Res. 6, that piece of legislation that stated plainly: Congress disapproves of openness on the internet. That is, that companies should be able to block your traffic on the internet unless you paid for it. Fortunately, the resolution was rejected (by a slim margin of four votes). See the tally here.

Imagine how this sort of deregulation would work in the phone industry. Phone companies could monitor who were calling, listen in to what you were talking about, and then decide how much to charge you accordingly. Would you want the phone companies listening in to your phone conversations and then deciding how much to charge you based on what you said? “Oh, he’s calling his sister again—I bet he’d pay more to talk to his family.” “Her doctor is about to say something important, that phone call’ll cost extra.” Eek.

The FCC has been charged with the responsibility to make sure the internet remains open, transparent, and is free from blocking and unreasonable discrimination. According to the FCC, if it’s legal, you can do it and the internet providers should respect that. Since this policy seems like a good idea to me as it promotes technological innovation and rightful consumer protection, I was shocked that Scott Brown voted to dismantle openness on the internet. I’ve written to his office for an explanation for his vote. I’ll let you know the reasons if they respond.

I’m thankful to Kerry for supporting net neutrality. And I’m surprised and pleased to see that the White House had the backs of the American people, even if a near majority of the Senate didn’t. In an official statement, the President openly opposed SJ Res. 6 because he is in favor of job creation. And this resolution would have stifled technological innovation. Good work.

As an aside: in the end Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Kelly Ayotte did vote for big business. If anyone can tell me how this resolution would have helped families, consumers, the poor, and/or children in Massachusetts, Maine, or New Hampshire, I’d like to know!