Why did Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley vote against a Senate “net neutrality” resolution that would protect both consumers’ and businesses internet rights? We must demand they explain their vote to give monopoly power to giant internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink.
Net neutrality is the Obama era rule that levels the playing field for users of the internet. Imagine each of the ISPs as giant tubes carrying you and others’ data back and forth on the internet. Under internet neutrality, the ISPs can’t favor or discriminate one user over another. Senator Ernst and Grassley voted to repeal the rule that requires ISPs to treat all users equally. Their vote against net neutrality allows ISP’s to dictate users download internet speeds, deny users equal access and charge users additional fees to visit specific internet sites. Without the net neutrality rule, ISPs could arbitrarily discriminate against users with little or no oversight.
It’s clear the public understands the threat to their internet access.
Polling by the University of Maryland indicates 83 percent of respondents favor the net neutrality rule, including 75 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of independents. Why would our two Iowa senators vote against the opinions of a majority of Americans that support the net neutrality rule?
Earlier this month the Senate passed a net neutrality resolution on a 52-47 vote. The 52-vote winning side consisted of 49 Democrats and were joined by three Republicans. Senator Ernst and Grassley voted with the 47 Republican minority siding with the ISP giants rather than American consumers.
Senator Markey (D-Massachusetts) specifically described his resolution in support of the net neutrality rule.
“It will ensure Americans aren’t subject to higher prices, slower internet traffic and even blocked websites because the big internet service providers want to bloat their profits,” said Markey.
Republican Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all voted with the Democrats in support of the net neutrality rule.
Collins said, “Internet providers must not manage their system in an anti-competitive way that limits consumers’ choices.”
Senator Kennedy put the debate in simple terms: “This vote comes down to one thing and one thing only—the extent to which you trust your cable company … We don’t like how much unconstrained power Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink have over us … I don’t think the cable company should be able to choose which websites download quickly, which websites download slowly and which websites don’t download at all unless you pay them more money. I believe in freedom of connection — freedom of connection is part of free speech.”
Senator Ernst and Grassley’s vote to limit consumers’ freedom of connection to inexpensive, easy and equal internet access is especially surprising due to the detrimental effects on Iowa. One in five Iowans lack access to high speed internet service. Without net neutrality rules, ISPs can potentially dictate access, cost and speeds. Iowa desperately needs to compete in the tech world and speedy internet access is essential. Senator Ernst and Grassley’s will weaken Iowa’s ability to expand critical broadband internet service in rural Iowa?
Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack understands the importance of internet service to rural Iowa. He is fighting for a broadband infrastructure plan for Iowa.
“I have hosted roundtables in all 24 counties of my district to discuss expanding broadband access, especially in rural areas,” Loebsack said. “And without fail, at every stop I heard from Iowans about how important broadband access is, but also how difficult it can be to get.”
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t yet decided. The Senate passed the resolution in support of net neutrality, but the House is threatening to let it die. If the House doesn’t pass a net neutrality bill, the current Trump FCC has voted to repeal it.
Senator Ernst and Grassley have voted with powerful corporate interests over the needs of their Iowa constituents. They have failed to protect Iowans’ freedom of connection.
by Rick Smith