Follow Me:

  • Home
  • /
  • The Struggle Over Net Neutrality

The Struggle Over Net Neutrality

Photo by Jacob Foko/Blue World Productions

When the 112th United States Congress convened on January 3, 2011 Congressman Bobby Rush, democrat from Illinois, was vying to be the lead democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. That subcommittee has jurisdiction over “Net Neutrality” and after several attempts spanning 10 years, democrats were unable to pass a bill to prevent internet providers from prioritizing what content would be transmitted first, or more quickly, and perhaps more importantly, what content would be available to consumers at all.

According to the New York Times, “the concept of net neutrality holds that companies providing Internet service should treat all sources of data equally.” That’s a simple way of saying that Internet service providers should be prohibited from blocking, restricting, or filtering the traffic to competitor websites or to websites with information and services they find disagreeable; they also should not be able to collect higher fees for access to certain content as that would essentially discriminate against those who cannot afford the higher price.

Congressman Bobby Rush, democrat from Illinois. Photo by Jacob Foko/Blue World Productions

Congressman Rush, breaking with many of his democratic colleagues, opposed net neutrality legislation and in so doing, lost his bid for co-chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. A congressional aide states, “The congressman believes that regulating internet providers could strangle industry investment and damage job growth in an already weak and struggling economy.”

But supporters of net neutrality don’t buy that argument. They insist that all legal
content should be available to all consumers equally at the same level of service and price. One such group, the Color of Change coalition spearheaded a campaign that targeted the congressman by accusing him of siding with the telecommunications industry, a surprising move since the group vocally advocates on minority, especially

African American issues and supports Congressman Rush in nearly all other areas.
According to a congressional aide, “The campaign against (Congressman Rush) bid was led by the coalition called Color of Change, a progressive group dedicated to strengthening Black America’s political voice, created in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and that has more than 800,000 online members. As big social media users, they are impacted by net neutrality.”