Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Q For SD Senators Thune And Rounds: Why Do You Hate A Free And Open Internet?

     With their recent votes against implementation of an internet privacy rule that would have barred service providers from selling our browsing histories, Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds (both
The Future Of The Internet?
R, SD) confirmed their  support for assaulting the neutrality of the internet.  A couple of years ago, when he lost his battle against maintaining the

internet's status as a public information highway, meaning the flow of information had to remain open and unfettered by service providers, Thune called a decision to retain oversight of the internet by the Federal Communications Commission "partisan . . . a power grab . . . and regulatory overreach." The telecom industry, which has provided Thune with $220,000 in direct campaign contributions since 2011 (placing the industry among his top ten contributors) took the political hit.  Its champion Thune dutifully responded.  Why Thune thought that allowing ISPs to create various channels of information with separate pricing for each of them would benefit us ordinary South Dakotans is still kind of a mystery to me.  The status quo lets us turn on our browsers and watch all the content that's out there without having to pay more for some information that's deemed "premium." I wish Thune would explain how his new set-up would be better for us.  
     I know the industry, via the new FCC commissioner, Trump-appointee Ajit Pai, claims that investment and innovation are stymied by the requirement that content should be provided on an equal-access basis.  Pai has repeatedly made that case over the years, and now that his political benefactor Donald Trump has ascended to power, Pai has his best chance ever at turning the internet into an online version of cable television.  When our Senator Thune (along with our Senator Rounds, whose $30k from Verizon makes that company his 3rd largest contributor) last month voted to repeal internet browser privacy rules set to go into effect (but delayed by the courts), the first shots were fired across the bow of consumer interests.  As to the lack of investment argument, it's really a bunch of hooey.  The telecom "group"  as of 2016 was by far the leading industry in terms of  spending, with the financial information giant Investopedia noting that in 2015 the industry "broke
out from the crowd" in terms of capital spending.  Meantime, using publicly available SEC data, The
The Fight Goes On
Keep It Free
Nation notes
that overall spending by the industry is up 5% in the past two years, with some areas of spending up as much as 50%. This is not an industry that lacks for growth and development opportunities.  

     What the industry lacks, and apparently sorely desires, is the chance to wrest control of the internet from public watchdogs like the FCC and turn it into their private universe of varying contents and speeds.  I don't get how allowing service providers to control content is an improvement on the status quo, and would like an explanation from our Senators Thune and Rounds as to why they believe it is. 


  1. When it comes to the SD Congressional delegation the old saw remains appropriate, viz., the best legislators money can buy.

  2. It's not about principles: it's about $220,000. As long as it's money in their pocket, our Senators have no principles, ideas, or anything but the official talking points they got with the check.

  3. "Pai has his best chance ever at turning the internet into an online version of cable television" Bingo. Most people nowadays aren't even aware that when television started, it was the basic networks and that you had an antenna, so the television that came into your home was free and was paid for by the commercials that ran on TV.

    They probably are also not aware that the stations and networks were regulated as to how many minutes (10 if memory serves) of every half hour could be dedicated to commercials, the rest had to be programming.

    As for news they were mandated provide 60 minutes every twenty four hours for news commercial free. That is what they owed us for the free use of OUR airwaves. Today, even Public Television has advertising even during the Newshour. Wonder how much that caused the networks and how many politicians had to be bought to get that job done.

  4. The Democrats (i.e. Elizabeth Warren) say "but what about the consumers?"
    The Republicans reply "To HECK with 'em!"