Last week, the powerful US House Appropriations Committee revealed the great lengths the cable and phone industries are willing to go in order to control the internet. After the Federal Communications Commission underwent a long process accepting and analyzing input from companies, public interest groups and 4 million Americans, it created strong internet freedom rules that reflect a commitment to our democratic ideals.
As expected, these industries are fighting the rules through the court process. They’re losing there too. As a result, the lobbyists are upping their game – big time. Internet Freedom has made it onto that special lifeboat that congressional lawmakers use to pass controversial laws in an era when very few laws are passing at all – must-pass funding bills.
The cable industry spent over 18 million dollars on federal lobbying in 2014. The telephone industry spent almost 42 million. The industries spend all that money on lobbyists for just this kind of moment. They have invested in an outcome. So, after their loss at the FCC earlier this year, you know they’ve brought in the big guns and the big money. To get your policy into a must-pass funding package takes some big time lobbying money in an already saturated system.
This fight is especially important to us in Colorado. Colorado ranks number 4 in technology based economic development. Communities are doing a lot to expand internet access into rural parts of the state to allow for even more of that. These changes will create new opportunities for people living in economically depressed areas, and add rural living to the list of options for entrepreneurs stuck in the city in a gorgeous state like Colorado. But if we lose internet freedom, these opportunities will be available only to the very wealthy or very connected.
There is a start-up buzz in Colorado, but we’re putting that risk if entrepreneurs don’t have an equal opportunity to access consumers online.
The internet is a commons. It’s a democratic space.
Just like we have the freedom to go where we please physically, we should have the freedom to go where we want online. If Congress kills internet freedom at the request of cable and phone companies, your dreams of starting a new business or nonprofit will be much harder to achieve, because you’re going to need a fortune to buy access to a pool of potential consumers instead of being able to earn their attention on the open internet.
Tell Congressman Jared Polis he should work harder to reach his colleagues in the House. He is a business man who made his millions on the open internet. He gets it. He’s poised to be one of our best advocates for an open internet. He’s done a lot already, but we need his help to make sure the FCC’s net neutrality rules stand.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the subcommittee on Communications and Technology. I know she understands the importance of internet freedom. Tell her we need to hear her voice loud and clear to protect internet freedom.
If Colorado wants to stay competitive and stay civically healthy, we need to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to access the global marketplace of consumers and ideas.
Tags: Broadband for All