Tomorrow is the day that the Federal Communications Commission votes on whether to repeal net neutrality protections. If the FCC gets its way, and it seems almost certain that it will, big ISPs will get to decide who can see what on the internet, how quickly they see it, and how much they’ll pay for the privilege.
The FCC does, of course, claim that the impact of its proposed Internet Freedom Order has been exaggerated and that it will help improve competition while stopping the government from interfering with the internet.
But like pretty much everything in this world, the whole situation comes down to one thing: money. To illustrate this point, The Verge has given a breakdown of how much cash the telecommunications industry gave to sitting members of Congress and their leadership PACs between 1989 and 2017. While nearly 30 years is a long time, $101 million is a lot of donation money.
Looking at how much each party received from that amount, it seems the Republicans lead the way with $55.8 million, though the Democrats aren’t too far behind with their $45 million. The rest of the donations, which isn’t very much at all, went to Independents.
Unsurprisingly, the big three telecoms firms were the most generous donors. AT&T handed over $19.8 million, Comcast gave $14.9 million, and Verizon donated $11.2 million during the 28-year period, all in the hope of “influencing” political decisions.
The Verge also looked at the 535 individual members of Congress who received ISP donations. Top of the list is Senator John McCain, who got just over $2.5 million. A total of 11 members of Congress received over $1 million from the telecom companies.
You can see a full breakdown here.
It was revealed yesterday that over 20 internet pioneers including Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf had signed an open letter urging the FCC to abandon tomorrow’s vote.