The Senate voted to restore Net Neutrality yesterday, a great step that might have far reaching effects (assuming the House actually got with the program and did the same thing, which I doubt.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a short personal experience I had that touched on this. When we were in DC last week, meeting with our Senators and Representatives, one of the points we were emphasizing was the importance of broadband and an open internet. It’s a point we touched on last year as well, for all the good it did. (At least, that’s how I felt at the time.)
Our delegation raised the issue with Senator Collins again, and she immediately spoke of her desire that an open internet return, talking about how important it was to the future of Maine. She spoke of how her first real job was in a library, and how she worked in a public library all the time while she was going through grade school through high school.
I was glad to hear of her support, but I knew as well how often politics ends up steamrolling any personal feelings people might have when it comes time to vote. Things are quite clannish these days, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had gone along with the rest of her party on the net neutrality vote. I’ve respected her willingness to depart from party lines on issues that have been important to her.
So I was very pleased to hear she had done so again for the net neutrality vote. Politicians get a reputation for saying one thing to constituents and then going off and voting another way, and I wanted to note that this time that wasn’t the case. She was true to her word and her stated convictions. Her aides remembered what we’d brought up during our visit as well, and they made sure to send along the following statement she’d made:
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following her vote today in favor of restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47.
“I have long supported common-sense regulations to prohibit Internet providers from prioritizing certain content over other. I also support regulations to clarify that Internet providers must not manage their systems in an anti-competitive way. Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules will ensure that the Internet will remain open and continue to be a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity.
“Net neutrality could also make it easier for broadband providers to expand service in higher-cost areas, such as rural Maine, by reestablishing FCC’s oversight over interconnection points that allow rural carriers to connect with the rest of the Internet. Without this protection, rural carriers’ ability to deploy broadband in underserved areas will be hindered, undermining efforts to bring adequate broadband to all Americans. In December, I joined my colleague, Senator Angus King, in sending a letter urging the FCC not to set aside its net neutrality rules without addressing the legitimate concerns of rural providers and the tools needed to support continued buildout of rural broadband.
“We must also do more to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. Facebook’s role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to access its user data illustrates the need to strengthen consumer protections.
“Congress should not use net neutrality to pick winners and losers among these competitors, but must instead adopt bipartisan legislative reforms to the 1934 regulations that put consumers first.
“A careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public is warranted to ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth along with meaningful consumer privacy and data security protections. With a bipartisan commitment, I believe Congress can enact legislation to achieve these goals.”
Thank you for your vote, Senator Collins. It is noted and very much appreciated.
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