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Susan Crawford Profiled in the New Republic
In a New Republic article, John B. Judis compared Susan Crawford's focus on expanding access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet networks with Senator Elizabeth Warren and her pursuit of Wall Street financial reform.
Judis discusses Crawford's book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, and the grassroots effort to convince President Obama she should be the next FCC chair:
“My name comes up in discussions about the new FCC chair. I’m on lists,” Crawford has said—but she expects the job to go to telecom entrepreneur and Obama bundler Tom Wheeler. “It’s obvious to me that they can’t [appoint me],” she told me. “The incumbents would go bananas.”
The article shares a little about Crawford's personal background and how she came to follow the mantra, "Life is short, get in the way." One part that resonated with us is this paragraph:
In 2009, Obama appointed Crawford the White House special assistant for science, technology, and innovation. It upsets her to talk about her time in government. “Every time I remember this White House stuff, it has a real effect on me,” she says. “You think that policy is going to be made on what the American people need, but what I was surprised by was how much of this was about reelection from the very beginning.” When she was asked to figure out how to spend stimulus money for broadband access, she had to resist suggestions to extend “crappy wireless through the country because that would look good in the reelection,” she says. “The idea that there was something different about Internet access as a market, that its quality would be available at a reasonable cost, that did not resonate in the White House.” She resigned after barely eight months.
Judis links to our Community Network Map, a tool Crawford cites on a regular basis. We hope to see more mainstream articles on Crawford and the muni movement as more people realize how local self-reliance can help cure our connectivity challenges.
The Future of the Internet, by TNR and Vint Cerf
Politicians aren’t always especially thoughtful about, or even familiar with, information technology. George W. Bush used the term “Internets” during not one but two presidential debates. The late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens famously referred to the World Wide Web as a “series of tubes.” And John McCain drew ridicule in 2008 when he conceded that he was still “learning to get online myself.” Much worse than these gaffes, however, are some of the policies that have been promoted by lawmakers and candidates who seem to fundamentally misunderstand the importance of a free and open Internet. In recent years, we have seen politicians accede to the interests of giant telecom companies rather than support net neutrality; propose anti-piracy bills that threaten Internet freedom; and, as Siddhartha Mahanta recently documented at TNR Online, block poor communities from receiving broadband access.Good to see this issue being discussed outside of the standard tech circles. Especially when outlets like the New Republic explicitly call for more wireless subscriber protections:
There are, of course, ways in which the administration has disappointed. Even when the White House has done the right thing on Internet issues, it has not always acted as speedily or as forcefully as it might have. Moreover, it has not always done the right thing. Particularly striking was the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision, in late 2010, to exempt mobile carriers from new rules protecting net neutrality.
Recent Articles show ALEC and South Carolina Pushing to Limit Community Broadband
In an effort to improve the area’s economic prospects, county officials have worked in recent years to secure funding to refurbish roadways and sewer systems—but they also know that, in a globalized marketplace, old-school infrastructure is not nearly enough. That’s why, in 2009, Orangeburg County applied for, and received, $18.65 million in stimulus money to finally give the area access to high-speed broadband internet. County Administrator Bill Clark and his colleagues envisioned a municipal, or muni, network that could reach roughly a quarter of Orangeburg’s rural population, including just over three thousand households and one hundred businesses. ... But the titans of telecom aren’t operating on quite the same wavelength. Since last January, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Time Warner have contributed just over $146,000 to politicians in South Carolina who back legislation that would cripple networks like Orangeburg’s. It’s only one example of a broader campaign by telecom companies to protect their cartel at all costs—even at the expense of keeping the country’s poorest on the wrong side of the digital divide for many years to come.Same story, different state. We've seen the same efforts across the U.S., which is why nineteen states have created barriers to community broadband. Meanwhile, the source of a lot of those barriers -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- or ALEC has been getting attention for the many bad bills they have ushered through state legislators.