Motherboard Vice - January 10, 2017
Why Marsha Blackburn's Rise Is Bad News for Net Neutrality and Science
Written by Sam Gustin & Jason Koebler
Big Telecom’s best friend in Congress just got a very big promotion.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the arch-conservative Tennessee Republican who has received mountains of campaign cash from the telecom industry, has been chosen by the GOP to lead a key Congressional subcommittee with broad jurisdiction over cable, phone, and internet issues.
For years, Blackburn has worked tirelessly to undermine pro-consumer policies advanced by the Federal Communications Commission—policies that have invariably been opposed by the very corporate giants that have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into her campaign coffers.
In particular, Blackburn has waged a relentless campaign against the FCC’s policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, which she has disparaged as “socialistic.” She has also opposed efforts to promote community broadband networks, to make internet access more affordable for underserved communities, to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market, and to protect consumer privacy from broadband industry abuses.
“With Blackburn, the myth of Sisyphus comes to mind,” said Christopher Mitchell, Director for Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a longtime open internet advocate. “It feels like every time you get used to the challenges we have ahead of us, it gets harder. She’ll do what AT&T and Comcast want, and I’m guessing it’ll be a disaster, and then she’ll have to own it.”
Blackburn’s coziness with the telecom and media industry interests has been well documented.