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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Net neutrality fight still unsure

    Corporate lobbyists should be forced to walk the plank and fed to the sharks.

    Lobbyists’ undue influence over politicians constitutes a de-facto corporate fascism. An article by Cracked showed how disturbingly pervasive that fascism is, how “lobbyists are everywhere, operating without any rules.”

    From their coercion of infantilized politicians to their grabbing said politicians by the campaign puppet strings, lobbyists’ roots reach distressingly deep, and no domain is this clearer than the ongoing, vicious battle over net neutrality and, by extension, the future of the Internet.

    Even though the major push to fix net neutrality has ended, those parasites working for “Big Telecom” — companies like Viacom, AT&T and Time Warner — are still placing their sinuous probing tentacles within the orifices of the issue of net neutrality.

    Net neutrality keeps the access of information flow the same between princes and paupers, which also keeps the Internet from being a Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”-esque dystopia.

    But currently, according to ProPublica, Big Telecom is doubling-down on astroturfing efforts via the National Cable and Telecommunications Association — its main lobbying group — to fool everyone into supporting it with campaigns like Onward Internet, a sinisterly vague campaign that’s meant to push against net neutrality.

    Big Telecom is also buddying up with General Motors Co. to cripple any new net-neutrality rules set in place.

    Because they think netizens will forget about the issue while they rest self-assured that their comments sent to the Federal Communications Commission over the summer might count, the Telecom robber barons are shoring up their political influence via public relations and cash so that before netizens realize it, Big Telecom can take net neutrality and drown it in a bathtub.

    If lobbyists are given an inch, they’ll take it a mile, as can clearly be seen by how media deregulation by the FCC has lead to only five companies controlling most media, and how even now companies are throttling down on net neutrality.

    Also, the FCC has shown in the past that even when commenters come out in force, it doesn’t really read most of what they have to say. Why? Because, apparently, according to a Slate article, it thinks the commenters — aka the everyday Internet users — are uninformed plebians, and thus, their opinions on the fate of their media does not amount to anything.

    And while President Barack Obama has said he wants “real” net neutrality, he’s suspiciously omitted the Title II reclassification of the Internet as a utility, like water and electricity, that is not only the simplest solution to the problem, but also the reason why Europe has better Internet for cheaper prices than the U.S.

    This is also the solution which, by the way, was advocated for by most FCC commenters.

    And now, Big Telecom’s plan has been unveiled to the world. Not only is it a laughable compromise of Title II, but it also favors larger Internet companies while leaving the consumers marooned. Dealings with companies like Netflix would be classified under Title II, preventing Big Telecom from playing favorites. But dealings with consumers would be regulated only under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which broadly allows the FCC to ensure broadband internet is deployed to Americans “in a reasonable and timely fashion.” Big Telecom would basically be allowed to treat consumers however it wants to.

    If politicians still ignore cries for change, they will end up crucifying net neutrality on a cross of greed and inefficiency.

    Netizens need to raise a ruckus and show they aren’t so easily lulled into acquiescence. They need to advocate en masse for full Title II representation rather than just compromise.

    In order to get proper regulations passed, they can and must contact the FCC and their representatives in Congress.

    Together, we can do this, and if they ask, tell ‘em Tom Johnson sent you.


    Tom Johnson is a film and television production junior. Follow him on Twitter.

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