This week, Harold Ford, Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, showed how completely the DLC is captured by industry money, why the US congress is mired in gridlock, and why the government continues to fail to protect the American public: from oil spills to banking crises to mining disasters, and now to the Internet. Big money lobbyists and their puppet politicians' blind abandonment of reasonable government oversight.
Harold Ford is one of those puppets. In his piece, "FCC Re-Designation of Broadband Will Bring Unwanted Market Uncertainty" Ford calls on the FCC to halt their efforts to reestablish the agency's authority over Internet service providers (ISP's) like Comcast and AT&T. As I have described in previous posts, the courts recently ruled that changes made by the Bush-era FCC has left the agency in charge of the nation's communications without authority to oversee the 21st century's dominant communications platform. This would be funny if it weren't reality.
Phone and cable companies are flooding Capitol Hill with cash and an army of lobbyists, including proxies like Ford, who failed to mention in his Huffington Post piece that he is the honorary co-Chair of "Broadband for America", an industry front group that pays him to spin on their behalf.
If the FCC heeds Ford's advice, you can say goodbye to candidate Obama's promises of universal, affordable Internet access and Net Neutrality. You can say goodbye to the level playing field that the Internet has always been: where all content moves at the same speed, no matter who is sending it.
With a broken political system awash in special interest money, Harold Ford is not alone. On Monday, 74 House Democrats signed an industry-written letter that echoes Mr. Ford's line, calling on the FCC to stand down. The letter is so full of misleading information that it's hard to know where to begin. And nearly every Republican in congress is toeing the phone and cable line.
So tell it like it is, Harold Ford. You're choosing the big money from the cable and telco juggernaut over the right of the American people to fast, affordable, universal Internet access. You're ignoring how the US has slipped from 4th to 22nd in broadband speed and adoption. You're ignoring Harvard Berkman Center's findings that regulation promoting competition would serve US consumers well.
Mr. Ford, you said that "Legal and Agency experts are not carefully examining the economic impact will have on investment decision"? But FCC Chairman Genachowski repeatedly stated his intent to ensure investment continued... just read his speech. Over the past few weeks we saw broadband providers themselves telling investors that they had no plans to slow investment in response to the FCC.
Harold, I am looking for the consumers you claim have prospered under the current "light regulatory touch." You mean all of the Americans who are paying more and getting less than in 21 other nations? Prospering more than in France, where you can get broadband, phone and 300 TV channels for $37 a month? By my estimate, Americans are paying about three times more here thanks to your "light regulatory touch" that abandons competition and other key oversight.
Author's note: Several comments below are rehashing industry lies that Net Neutrality is a "government takeover of the Internet." In fact, the opposite is true. Net Neutrality is the long-standing law that says Internet service providers and the government may not block or censor what you do online. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying to you.