I know, you’re all excited about the holidays and worried about the coming tax bill that clobbers New Jerseyans. Some of you are concerned that our congressman, Leonard Lance, was unable to provide relief from higher taxes. So, the last thing you need is more blather about politics.
I get that, but, with all that other stuff going on, you might overlook a change that occurred this week that will deeply affect the way you obtain information, use social media, stream videos, and make other uses of the internet. What happened is that the Federal Communications Commission just repealed net neutrality protections for internet users.
The FCC established net neutrality two-and-a-half years ago to provide basic protections for consumers and to assure equal treatment for all users. Congressman Lance followed his party line in 2015 and said it was “the most dramatic government intervention in the internet in two decades” and “will hurt consumers and discourage new investment and innovation in broadband.”
None of that happened. Vibrant new companies and apps were created, and internet access and speed improved dramatically.
However, as we have learned this year, opinions sometimes trump facts. And money talks in politics.
Back in March Lance voted to reverse the FCC privacy rule that prohibited internet providers from selling customer data. The Senate blocked that plan.
This week, however, Lance joined 107 members of Congress in signing a letter to the FCC Chairman supporting the plan to repeal net neutrality. The repeal was approved on December 14, 2017 by the Commission along party lines.
Now, companies like Comcast, Verizon, and A.T.& T., who will make serious money from the destruction of net neutrality, will get a return on their investments in Congress. They can speed up services for apps and websites, while blocking or slowing down others. Some faceless, mercenary technician can now control your internet access and use, including censoring what you can watch.
As to the money part, two examples of how it talks. To get better, faster access to the internet and improve your place in the queue, expect to pay more. According to The Center for Responsive Politics and The Verge, Leonard Lance has received $290,550 in donations from the telecom industry since he joined the House.
Right now, like most of us, I am worried about my impending Republican tax increase. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t be more worried about monumental interference with something I use for pleasure, business, and information daily—the internet.
If you feel the same way, you might take it up with Leonard Lance. His phone numbers are:
DC: (202) 225-5361, Flemington: (908) 788-6900, Westfield: (908) 518-7733
From Rolf Margenau, a member of Tewksbury Area Indivisible