Net Neutrality in 60 Seconds or Less: Why Griffith Will Vote No

Griffith has taken $198,000 in contributions from telecom companies during his time in office; if net neutrality comes to Congress, which way do you expect he will vote? 

Net neutrality sounds like one of those techie issues that companies and politicians argue about but means nothing to you. If you have a Netflix account or watch a lot of YouTube, nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a short description to get you up to speed.

What is net neutrality? Here’s a snippet from CNN. “The net neutrality rules were approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015 amid an outpouring of online support. The intention was to keep the internet open and fair. Under the rules, internet service providers are required to treat all online content the same. They can’t deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.”

What just happened? The FCC just repealed these rules. The vote was on party lines, three Republicans voted to repeal, two Democrats voted against.

What does this mean? It means that internet service providers can prioritize traffic from their own media companies over third-party companies. This chart, from Business Insider, shows how potentially damaging that could be. For example, any of the internet service providers (ISPs) could throttle content from Netflix and YouTube, legally, so long as they disclose the practice. They could charge Netflix for fast access through their service, or charge consumers who access Netflix.

Here’s a snippet from CityBeat.

“For example, consider how ISPs in other countries that don’t recognize net neutrality protections, such as Portugal, are able to bundle popular internet services. Customers pay their ISP to access the internet and then an additional fee to access different bundles of popular content and services, such as YouTube, Hulu, Amazon or PayPal.”

So in addition to paying Netflix for Netflix, you’ll pay Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon as well. To track all of your watching data, these providers may deploy “supercookies,” without notification.

Who benefits? The large internet service providers.

How does this benefit consumers? It doesn’t. It makes the internet more intrusive, more expensive, may slow content from sites you like to watch and will increase the cost of innovation since new content sites will have to pay ISPs. Just like the Republican Congress voting to allow ISPs to sell browsing history, this benefits ISPs to the detriment of consumers.

What happens next? The FCC decision can be challenged in court or Congress. But today, it is the new normal.

What’s Morgan Griffith’s take on net neutrality? When a constituent asked about it, he quoted the Republican FCC Commissioner that the FCC was “adopting a solution that won’t work, to a problem that doesn’t exist, using legal authority it doesn’t have.” The quote proved to be wrong, as net neutrality was upheld by federal courts in 2016. More to the point, Griffith has accepted $198,000 in campaign contributions from telecom companies during his time in office. If legislation does come up, which way would you expect him to vote?