December 3, 2010

Is Bobby Rush (D-IL) Opposition to Net Neutrality a Threat to Future of the Open Internet?

I’ve shared information with you about Net Neutrality in the past.

Methinks that it's time for each of us as individuals to take a stand on this issue. Earlier this week it became clear -- the FCC is wavering on net neutrality. And no matter what kind of rule the FCC makes, Republicans in Congress are waiting for an opportunity to gut Internet freedom.

But the person seeking to lead Democrats on the House subcommittee with oversight over Internet policy has been a staunch opponent of net neutrality, even calling it "a solution in search of a problem."

And due to his seniority, he may get the position. The decision on the position is being made right now.

That's why this blog is joining with friends at in calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key leaders to oppose Congressman Bobby Rush's bid for Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) has a strong record of service in our communities -- let there be no mistake. And we want to see Black members of Congress in leadership positions wherever possible. But when it comes to the Internet, Congressman Rush has repeatedly supported the interests of the telecom industry over the interests of regular people, and he's been a leading Black voice in opposition to network neutrality.

In 2006, Rush worked with Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and other Republicans to enact legislation that would undermine network neutrality.   Recently, he supported an effort by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) to prevent the FCC from instituting network neutrality rules. It would be dangerous to the future of the Internet for Bobby Rush to become the ranking member on the House subcommittee in charge of net neutrality.

Rush's financial relationship to the telecom industry also raises the question of whether he can stand with everyday people vs. the big broadband providers. AT&T, Verizon, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association have been among his strongest campaign contributors, with AT&T's PAC being his second biggest life-time contributor. From 2001 to 2004 the company donated $1 million to a community technology center Rush founded in Chicago that bears his name.

Speaker Pelosi has been a steadfast supporter of the open Internet and has promised that any legislation to gut net neutrality is "not going to be a Democratic initiative."

In my opinion, allowing Rush to become Ranking Member would simply be a mistake for any of us that support continuation of 'net neutrality' and threaten the future of the open Internet.

What say u?


philena said...

I believe Bobby Rush is going through what many politicians and non-profits battle with. Where's the money coming from? But yet, these same companies hire many African-Americans in Technology. However, that gives no excuse for what these telcoms are doing. Unless they seriously plan on more convergence, they will try to double dip the consumers.

Villager said...

Philena - No question that Rep. Rush has a dilemma. It is the same faced by my favorite nonprofit -- BDPA. How do you balance the interests of your corporate sponsors (donors in Rep. Rush's case) with the interests of the community that you represent. I don't think BDPA has done a proactive job in this case.

I also don't think that Rep. Rush should be placed in a position where his motives can be questioned. Isn't there another option for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to consider for that seat? Someone who is not so obviously in the pockets of the anti- Net Neutrality forces?

Anyhow, I appreciate you for taking time to reply.

Villager said...

All - I just called and talked directly with Congressman Rush's office about his positions on Net Neutrality. If you are interested in having a direct discussion with his staff ... my recommendation is that you ask for Timothy Robinson. Mr. Robinson is his staff counsel (lawyer). He can be reached on (202) 225-4372