I recently wrote that Senator Charles Grassley is no friend to the Internet, choosing instead to run “roughshod over freedom of speech on the internet.” To be fair, Republicans hold no monopoly on using elected position to abuse the Internet. Leonard Boswell is just as bad, if not worse, than Charles Grassley when it comes to protecting your online interests.
For starters, Leonard Boswell voted “no” on establishing “network neutrality.” What is Net Neutrality? Net Neutrality is the guarantee that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will not be able to limit your ability to access certain websites or slow down service to these websites. Why would an ISP want to do such a thing?
Consider this. What if one search engine paid your ISP to promote its search engine and eliminate access to Google? What if your ISP took several deals like this until your ISP could afford to give you “free” Internet access? Now suppose everyone takes this “free” access and your ISP starts slowing or eliminating access to any website that does not pay up. You would lose unfettered access to 99.9% of the Internet. With no traffic, most of these websites, this one included, would stop providing new content. Your ISP would then be able to start charging you for access to each website you want to visit, much like similar companies charge for cable television. You want access to ESPN? That will be another $10/month. Disney? Another $10/month.
It will not take long before you are actually paying more than you are now, for access to just a tiny tiny fraction of the online resources you currently access. By the time you realize how horrible the situation has become, it will be too late, the mechanism will be in place and smaller websites will already have begun to disappear. Net Neutrality guarantees that your ISP cannot limit, or restrict your access to certain websites. And Leonard Boswell is doing his best to side with his telecom buddies on this issue, while tossing you under the bus. Along with several other members of Congress, Boswell even sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking it to abandon plans to protect you from Big Telecom interests that, not surprisingly, are also contributors to Boswell’s campaign. In additional to voting down Net Neutrality legislation and strongarming the FCC, Boswell also voted to give his Goliath telecom buddies retroactive immunity for warrantless surveillance of customers’ online activities.
Why do these legislators get away with so brazenly trampling on their constituents? Mostly because the issues are complex and voters are ill-informed. If it is a choice between voting in favor of large campaign contributors over the average uninformed Iowan, well, you can guess who wins that battle. But now you are no longer uninformed. You know what your Congressional representatives are doing to you and you can take a stand. Demand your Senators and Representatives stop protecting multinational telecoms at your expense. Demand that they represent you. Demand Net Neutrality.
You can check out how all of your Iowa Congressional representatives vote on technology issues right here. And if you are not from Iowa, you can find out if your Congressional representative are siding with telecoms over constituents at SaveTheInternet.